Lynn Christiansen was often asked at the beginning of her career why she was doing a “male job” as part of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18.
“But I always answered them with the question, ‘Why can’t women do this job?’ I’ve spent my career doing what I love and having a blast doing it,” she said.
She spoke as part of a panel and luncheon for young women at the Lorain County JVS.
Hosted by Kelley Kupcak, technical assistance director at Chicago Women in Trades, the panel included women who work as laborers, bricklayers, operating engineers, dynamic wind tunnel operators, and highway technicians. It gave students a chance to hear the personal stories — and challenges — of women who are working in the trades.
The opportunities they spoke of were plentiful and ranged from working on bike paths at the Metro Parks to the top of the Key Bank Tower in downtown Cleveland. They also included building bridges and managing safety operations for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Janice Rouge, bricklayer for Local 5, said, “It is great to drive past a building five, 10, 15 years later and be able to say, ‘I helped to build that!’”
“Any one of you can do these jobs,” said Cori Lupton, dynamic wind tunnel operator for NASA and electrician for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 38. “You just need to be willing to work hard and put in the hours.”
Courtesy photo JVS students receive firsthand insight from women in trades.