Time to Celebrate Women: Evening the Balance in the Trades

EIN Shannon Tymosko NEW 400

March 7, 2022

By Shannon Tymosko

It’s International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the women who came before me making it possible for me to consider a job in the skilled trades, and to celebrate all the current women who are curious enough to take on a predominately male industry. I want to celebrate all women out there brave enough to step up and show up every day despite the challenges and struggles you have and do face. I celebrate you and all the successes you have had, big or small to get you where you are today!! Remember, you are not alone, you are strong, resilient, and deserving!! 

I wouldn’t be anywhere without a few amazing women in my life! I have the best Aunt; I call her Tina, but most know her as Christine. She has encouraged, mentored, and supported me throughout this Journey we call life. It’s interesting that she was picked to be my Godmother at birth, it couldn’t be any more fitting. You will never see her in heels, a big dress, and a wand, but she is the woman I would call if I needed an emergency pumpkin ride in the middle of the night! At 16 I met a women named Paulette, she quickly grew into a mother figure caring for me, spoiling me, and treating me like her own. Time my pass between our conversations but it never has affected our connection and lifelong bond. She taught me that people come into your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime, and Mama Paulette is stuck with me for life! Lastly, I must thank my mother for life, and giving me the drive for independence, hard work and success. Growing up she built things like the doghouse for our dog Draco, and a book shelve for one of my birthdays. This planted the seed for me to believe that a women can take on any task and should have her own set of tools!

While writing this article, and with women’s day approaching, I have been thinking a lot about women! And it is amazing having these few fabulous ladies in my life, but the truth is I have struggled with female relationships my entire life and sharing that with the world is hard. I feel like women are judged harder by both males and females than men are in many circumstances. For example, I often see men on construction sites get mad. When this happens it sometimes results in some random yelling, and maybe even something being thrown. In these situations, the questions often asked are: Who upset him? What did someone to do make him mad? Should the situation be reversed, and a woman were to act in the same exact way the thought presented is, she’s batshit crazy! It has been explained to me on the construction site that all women are crazy, you just don’t want to be psycho! There is a double standard for how men and women are interpreted everywhere in life, and I can’t help but sometimes feel judged for my lack of female friends. I am sure some will judge and assume it must all be my fault, and I too have thought this at times. But with women I feel like I must actively work on these relationships, always wondering where our friendship stands, and often ending when the chapter ends (sports, school, work etc.). Or it results in one of us feeling begrudged about something and growing apart, going our separate ways. Far too many times after parting ways, I have found myself on the receiving end of bullying, lies, gossip and untrue accusations. To be clear I am not looking for anyone’s pity and I certainly do not use this as an excuse for anything, but it is still a truth for some many including me, and something you need to know to understand where I am coming from.

This is not me saying I don’t have any female friends, of course I do, but for the past decade my best friend has been a male. I have found more often with men when they get mad, we fight/discuss it out, but then we eventually move on allowing the friendship to continue too. I find working with men easier, sometimes more fun, and a reason I am drawn to the trades. Again, very hard to say to the female reader, but it is my reality. Whereas In my experience I have found women move on to getting even, and this has created a distrust for women. Despite everything I often still find myself in these moments blaming myself as though it only takes one to tango. I am an over-thinker, analyzer and my own worst critic. Regardless of how much I blame myself, I am always left thinking I cannot be the only woman that feels this way? Perhaps there are other women drawn to the trades who feel similar?

Over the last two years people have gained a better understanding of mental health along with an acceptance of challenges we all face. I am left wondering if there are women out there who can relate to me on this one, and hope by sharing my story it might help just one of those ladies feel better connected today!

Despite my personal challenges and fears of distrust towards woman, I know the importance of change for the future generation, and we need more women!  I have said it before why promote the skilled trades, if I am not also going to advocate for a better future and culture for those young people who follow? Sometimes it takes being vulnerable and talking about the hard stuff to create that change, and I want to be someone who helps towards a better tomorrow for all. You can read my previous article Advocating for Change in the Skilled Trades where I talk about how as women, we should be building our sisters up, sharing their stories, encouraging them to be unique and different. And that a good sister, and mentor knows she cannot reach everyone and needs the help of her sisters to reach the ones she cannot. I also discuss other important areas of opportunities for the industry and culture, but for this special month I think it is important to highlight why we need more woman in the industry!!

It is obvious that women are a minority in the skilled trades, but what is not so obvious is how this effects the industry, culture, and people everywhere. Every individual, male or female, brings a different energy with them that can change the mood of any room; good or bad. I like to talk about how often women can and do change the energy in a room.

Shannon LADY VoltzSeveral women have told me that they too have seen similar shifts in energy. One woman explained to me, that while working on a predominately male team, that her presence was often requested for a meeting whether she was needed to be there or not. I saw this shift in energy firsthand one day when working on a hotel project. I was in one of the winding hallways, up on a ladder, installing a pot light when I heard a site supervisor approaching. He was mad, and his tone and words told me this before I even saw him. When he turned the corner and saw me standing there his tone immediately cut in half. Nothing else changed in the environment but me, and I can’t help but think this was an example of what other woman had been referring too. Men are filled with testosterone and putting all of that under one roof with no sense of balance can have its own consequences. Including women energy on a construction project in some way allows the men to be more vulnerable at times. I am the one of the first people to know when a brother has had a baby, and the only person who still cares to see his beautiful bundle of joy after the first picture. Men often feel needed to fit a certain role when amongst all other men, but this starts to change when women are present. I am not saying men shouldn’t have their men time, and that thereheir can’t and shouldn’t be a boys club, but what I am saying is it isn’t good for business. I believe everything is better in balance and right now we can all admit that the construction industry is out of balance! Women make up half the population and it is with balance that will come change.

In the last few years, I have come across a few amazing women trailblazers! These women have been genuine, kind, and supportive, and represent true role models. One woman and mentor I feel blessed to have met is Jill Timushka RSE, CWB Weld Inspector Level 2/ B-pressure Welder/Executive Board – UA 496, podcast host, advisor, and fabulous woman. She has provided guidance, assistance, wisdom that is priceless and unmatched and I appreciate this amazing connection! I also have made a few fabulous tradie lady friends, one new one being Allie Donnelly, fellow electrical apprentice who I recently connected with through social media. We bonded on our first call, she is a smart, dedicated, hardworking, and driven woman! Allie said to me once “I want all women to know there’s a fit for everyone in the trade, it doesn’t matter how big or small you are, there are woman to help guide you, don’t be afraid to ask for help and know when to deny it!” These two women are just a couple examples of the amazing women I have met on my journey and excited to celebrate International Women’s Day this week!

www.shannontymosko.com/lady-voltz

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