PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — There are a number of occupations out there that primarily are dominated by men, especially in fields such as construction, metal fabrication and welding.
But educators constantly are looking for ways to make those fields more attractive to women, and an event this week at Northern Maine Community College will be a part of that process.
The seventh annual Totally Trades conference for girls only will be held Wednesday at NMCC. The hands-on, daylong event is designed to encourage girls to consider careers in fields which are traditionally male-dominated. Approximately 100 girls in grades eight through 12 are expected to take part.
The conference will feature sessions ranging from carpentry and green energy to heavy equipment operation and bridge building, all providing an opportunity for the girls to experience some aspect of the profession through a practical exercise.
The event always has attracted a significant crowd to the college, and is held in April to coincide with National Community College Month. Participants rotate throughout several stations, taking turns using different equipment, learning their uses and identifying items each tool can build.
Suzanne Senechal-Jandreau, conference planner and regional manager of the Central Aroostook office of Women, Work and Community, is the longtime organizer of the event.
“We want to give girls a hands-on workshop experience to spark their interest and raise awareness about a career field that they may not have previously considered, as well as provide female role models — women who can lead by example, having already succeeded in pursuing work that traditionally is viewed as ‘man’s work,’” she said recently.
The conference is free for young women in Aroostook County, with funding coming from a number of agencies, including the Maine Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Maine Department of Education, Northern Maine Development Commission, K-PEL Industrial Services, McCain Foods USA and NMCC.
Jason Parent, NMCC director of development and college relations, said the college is pleased to partner with Women, Work and Community to make the event possible.
“As a post-secondary education institution and a vital resource for employers in this region, we want to do everything possible to showcase to students and members of the community what educational and career options are available to them,” he said.
Conference registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Edmunds conference center.
Individuals seeking more information on the Totally Trades conference or interested in participating should contact Senechal-Jandreau at 764-0050.