CV-TEC Celebrates Women in Trades

Male-dominated fields like welding, auto mechanics and policing have seen an increase in women joining the ranks. While women are gaining momentum in these positions, they are still significantly outnumbered by their male counterparts. CV-TEC wants the young women in its male-dominated programs to feel seen and supported.

To provide this support, CV-TEC Director Michele Friedman created a Women in Trades group last year. It started with about 15 young women in non-traditional programs coming together for a luncheon to discuss any challenges they might be facing.

“For the women in non-traditional programs, are they being treated equally? Are they being welcomed? Do we have safety equipment and uniforms that fit them? We need to start having these conversations,” Friedman said. “So we decided to invite all the women enrolled in non-traditional programs to have these sorts of discussions.”


The first luncheon received such positive feedback, that the young women in these programs wanted to continue meeting. The group turned into a space where the students could feel supported and empowered by their peers.

This year’s luncheon was even bigger with 43 guests, including 28 students and five professional women panelists. These experts were CFO Northeast Group vice President Betsy Vicencio, Vermont Air National Guard SrA Emily Sorrell, Welding Alumnae Samantha
Parker, New Product Introduction Engineer Jamie LaPierre and Vermont Air National Guard SSgt Kasey Bellerive. Tables were given prompts, and women were asked to share their own experiences with the group.

One prompt was to share challenges they had encountered in their training field or current job. Groups then shared out their experiences with the whole room. Many challenges regarded uniforms only being in men’s sizes, being overlooked in the classroom, not getting hands-on time with a project or feeling excluded. Tessa from New Visions Applied Engineering struggled with the fact that she and another student were the only women in the class. She said it felt as though she couldn’t make connections with her other classmates or mentors because of the disconnect between them.

Tessa’s experience isn’t unique. Most of the young women in the room had one or two other women in their program with them. This is another reason the Women in Trades luncheon was created. While they may be alone in their program, they are not alone in general.

“There are so many young women in these programs, and by bringing them into a shared space, they can create connections and bonds with other women, so they can get support from another woman in a classroom nearby,” Friedman said.


This year’s luncheon included women who worked in male-dominated fields. This was a great opportunity for the young women of the room to hear about how to overcome challenges and excel in a non-traditional field. To maximize conversation, one field expert was assigned to each table to give their insights and advice on how to navigate working in a non-traditional profession.

“One thing my grandfather always told me was to be confident in your choices,” Parker said to the young women in the room. “Just think about that anytime you must make a big decision, whether men are involved or not. Just think about the choices and consequence and how confident you’re going to be in the end.”

CV-TEC Food Services Teacher Chef Deborah Misik has overcome adversity and sexism in the world of cooking. She brought her wisdom and experiences to her table, and she shared the challenges she had to overcome.

“I hope what these young women take away from this experience is that these challenges have been going on for a long time, and this is nothing new,” Misik said. “But because we know this, we have a support group for them. So, now there’s a place for them to go with other women who have their back.”

Advice came from peers as well. In March, CV-TEC highlighted the young women in their non-traditional programs on social media. These young women were given a platform to share why they joined their program, the most valuable thing they had learned and give advice for young girls potentially joining a trade.

Senior Danika was a part of this social media campaign and an attendee at this year’s Women in Trades luncheon. Her advice was to “speak up and say what’s on your mind.”

As conversations continue throughout the school year, CV-TEC will continue to provide platforms and safe spaces for these young women to connect with one another.

“I hope they see value in who they are and their choices,” Friedman said. “They are talented, and they should never settle – I hope that’s what they take away from this event.”


Read more 2023-2024 Success Stories here.