Franklin County Tech hosts ‘Tradeswomen of Tomorrow’ panel for freshmen girls

  • Right to left, Chelsea Salls, Lisa Clauson and Julie Boucher speak to freshmen girls at Franklin County Technical School’s “Tradeswomen of Tomorrow.” STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Left to right, Melissa Leary, Lily Thompson and Julie Boucher speak to freshmen girls at Franklin County Technical School’s “Tradeswomen of Tomorrow.” STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/16/2019 6:28:08 PM

MONTAGUE — As freshmen girls at Franklin County Technical School weigh which trade they want to study for the rest of their high school years, school administrators are urging them to consider fields that are often seen as being only for men.

On Tuesday morning, Franklin Tech hosted a panel of women working in fields such as plumbing, carpentry and electrical work called “Tradeswomen of Tomorrow,” connecting them with the school’s freshmen girls.

These fields have historically been dominated by men, although they have become more accessible to women in recent years. In carpentry, for example, the portion of female workers has gone up in the last 20 years from 2 percent to 16 percent, according to Lisa Clauson, the New England Carpenters Labor Management Program’s director of strategic partnerships.

Meanwhile, boys usually represent 70 percent of Franklin Tech’s student body, according to Superintendent Rick Martin. But the school may be drawing more girls than it has in the past.

This year, Franklin Tech introduced a veterinary science program, the first new shop since the school opened in the 1970s. Martin said the program seems to be especially popular with girls, and that it’s expected to be a major draw for new students in general.

Freshmen are now in the “exploratory period,” in which they rotate between four different shop classes for a month each, then after four months they decide which one to enroll in, Martin said.

Girls typically gravitate toward certain fields: the school’s cosmetology and health technology programs are mostly made up of girls, for example. But in the last five or six years, there has been more interest among girls in “non-traditional” fields, Martin said.

“We try to have a good balance,” Martin said. “It’s not viewed in our school as something that’s unusual.”

The panel on Tuesday was made up of women in non-traditional fields: carpenters Julie Boucher, Lily Thompson and Samantha Crevier; Nicole Miller, a machinist who formerly worked at Hillside Plastics and is now a machining shop teacher at Franklin Tech; plumber Chelsey Salls; electrician Melissa Leary; Mandy Talbert, an elevator repair worker; and Raye Young, the Franklin Tech cooperative education coordinator.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.




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