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This article was published 9/7/2019 (320 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Surrounded by tools and the appeal of the trades industry, 16 girls have gathered at Red River College to build friendships and possibly a path for their future.
With their hair tied back and sleeves rolled up, hammers and spirits were raised Tuesday while creating patterns on metal sheets at the 13th annual Girls Exploring Trades and Technology (GETT) camp.
Although the dented metal may not seem useful, over the course of the four-day camp, the 12- to 14-year-olds will get hands-on experience with different skilled trades under the guidance of the college’s instructors.
This year, the students will transform sheet metal into a lampshade, and create all of the other required parts for a lamp, including piping for the body, wood for the base, automotive paint for colour and electrical work.
Grace Alice Holt Frank said, as a 13-year-old girl, it is an encouraging environment.
"I’ve never been with so many girls. I’m usually surrounded by boys if I’m doing a certain shops class, because the girls in my school, they tend to prefer delicates, like going to the computers or doing cuisine or sewing or stuff like that — so it’s a unique experience, getting girls doing electrics and woodworks," she said.
Aubrey Doerksen, a cabinetry and woodworking instructor at RRC, was the group leader.
"I think in other trades, it can be a little more difficult for the girls to feel like they belong, because there are a lot of trades where it’s a little more rough-and-tumble," she said, adding woodworking attracts more women due to its creative nature.
"You are having to sling around really heavy stuff, you’re hanging around equipment that can be really hard on your body, so it can be tough to integrate into trades like that. But I think overall, if a girl is willing to come in and learn a trade and show that she’s there to work just as hard as anyone else, she’s going to do fine no matter where she goes."
During Doerksen’s 31/2 years at Red River College, she said female enrolment has remained steady and, at times, females have outnumbered males in the classroom.
Recent statistics provided by RRC indicate a three per cent increase in women entering skilled trades over the past 15 years. Over the past five years, an average of 115 women have enrolled in skilled trades and technology programs at the college.
Doerksen said although she didn’t consider pursuing trades after she completed high school, she finds the GETT camp encourages girls to see their future potential.
"What I really like about this is that it makes it less scary to look into a shop and see all these machines and tools, and now those things aren’t scary anymore," she said.
"So it opens up options for them to incorporate some of these skills into their lives and, if they decide to do this as something they enjoy, then even better."