Over 530 Students Attend Eastern Mass. Girls in Trades Event

| November 27, 2019

by Anastasia Barnes and Emily Langner

On Nov. 13, the fourth annual Massachusetts Girls in Trades Eastern Mass Conference and Career Fair was held at IBEW Local 103 in Boston. Over 530 career and technical education (CTE) high school students attended the event that included speeches by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito; educational workshops; and 33 booths from union apprenticeship programs, contractors and state entities.

The goal of Massachusetts Girls in Trades is to provide female students with equal opportunities to pursue careers in the building trades, by educating them about the paths available and by providing support and encouragement in their journeys. The event allows young women enrolled in CTE programs to network with the Massachusetts building trade unions, contractors, developers, and government and community organizations.

(l-r) Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Amber MacConnell, Lucy Kitchenka, and Governor Charlie Baker

Welcome remarks were given by Mary Vogel, treasurer of the Mass Girls in Trades Steering Committee.  The keynote address was given by Erica Clayton Wright, deputy director of the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor. Student workshops included Becoming a Union Tradeswoman, moderated by Liz Skidmore; Applying to Union Apprenticeship, moderated by Kate Harrison Leon; and Best Practices for Supporting Gender Equity in the Classroom, presented by Mary Vogel and Maura Russell.

Fifteen of the high schools represented at the conference are members of the Equity in Trades Student Leadership Council. Each of the 15 schools participated in the Best Student Showcase competition by designing a table with information from their schools and representing the theme of “Girls in Trades.”

The conference included workshops and a career fair.

Lucy Kitchenka of Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School and Amber MacConnell of Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School represented the council by moderating the event.

MacConnell, who is studying metal fabrication/welding, commented that “the more girls we get involved with the trades and the more representation we have as females in the work force will ultimately inspire other girls to push forward and go for it.”

Sherby Luma (l) and Evellyn Edesousa, juniors at Medford Vocational Technical High School

Maryanne Ham, director of special projects at Minuteman High School and chair for Mass Girls in Trades, commented on the influence the conference and educational sessions have on the daily lives of students. “I am excited about the work the Equity in the Trades Student Council is doing at their schools throughout Mass.,” she said. “Our student leaders use what they learn in our leadership workshops along with their technical expertise to promote equity in the classroom and workplace every day.”

In his speech, Governor Baker addressed the shortage of workers he comes across when visiting job sites throughout the state and encouraged those in attendance by saying, “You can work for yourself. You can be part of a union. You can run your own company.” He added, “The opportunity here is real and I certainly hope by your presence here today that you put the time and the effort into deciding and determining if this is for you, because let me tell you something, if it is, you not only will build great things, you will have the opportunity to build a very special and very great life right here in the Commonwealth.”

The career fair included booths from union apprenticeship programs, contractors and state entities.

Kitchenka, who is studying carpentry, hopes to continue to see more diversity in the trades and encourages other young women to get involved. She says, “I want women to know they’re not alone. They are capable of doing amazing things with a passionate, optimistic, and enthusiastic mindset.”


Follow Mass Girls in Trades on Facebook to learn more about the organization and find out about upcoming events.

Anastasia Barnes is publisher, and Emily Langner, the associate editor and staff writer, for High-Profile Monthly.

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