Technology Women in technology find home
Group to focus on membership

by Mark Sproxton
Northern News Services

NNSL (OCT 30/96) - The drive to see more women in non-traditional careers has hit full stride in Yellowknife.

The Northern chapter of Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) has joined forces with the Status of Women Council to recruit more members.

The council has offered office and meeting space to WITT to help the fledgling organization to reach out to potential members.

"We started about a year ago," said Sharon Ladd, president of the North of 60 WITT. "Now our focus is expanding our membership."

Currently there are about 20 members holding such positions as cooks, press-operators, parts people, and computer technicians.

Through their contacts, the group also wants to develop programs and co-operative arrangements to encourage more women and young women to take interest in the technical work force.

One part of that work force includes the mining sector.

In the territorial government's socio-economic agreement with BHP Diamonds, the mining company has agreed to work with the Status of Women to recruit, train, and employ women in its operations.

"BHP has been very supportive of our group," said Ladd, a certified press- operator. "We've had meetings along with the Status of Women to explore how they see women in their company.

"We're happy with their openness. We're excited."

The socio-economic agreement also calls for the establishment of day-care programs in NWT communities.

In addition to dealing with industry, the Northern WITT group hopes to work with schools across the NWT to develop projects for young women, Ladd said.

With those plans in the works, WITT has its eyes on delivering a national program that sees participants build, design, paint and race a go-cart.

"You learn a lot of things when you build something," Ladd said. "You learn how you handle yourself on the job site, self-esteem plus the basic skills."

And it is programs like these that can have the most impact because the participants get to deal with women who already possess those skills, she added.

To attract members from outside Yellowknife, the group is considering setting up a 1-800 phone number, an Internet site and producing a newsletter.