Local middle school girls find career inspiration in male-dominated fields

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - More than 200 girls from local middle schools spent the day learning about trades that have traditionally employed men.

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The Girls in Trades event was held at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay. The goal is to inspire girls to consider careers in fields like masonry and firefighting.

The girls were chosen from Wrightstown, Seymour, Kewaunee and Oneida Middle Schools.

"Quite frankly, we don't have enough women in these fields. And we find by the time they get into high school, they've lost interest," says Pam Mazur, Associate Dean, Trades and Engineering Technologies. "So if we can pique interest while they're in middle school, and hopefully they'll carry that into high school and maybe we'll see them in one of these trades or into some sort of non-traditional trades after high school."

The girls tried their hand at fire protection engineering. The field includes designing and troubleshooting sprinkler systems.

"I didn't think about it, but knowing how cool it is to be a firefighter and you get to save lives and everything, I think it's pretty cool," says Alexis Webster, 6th grader, Oneida Nation School District.

Some of the girls are interested in math and science.

"I want to be a marine biologist," says Anani Burgos, 6th grader, Oneida Nation School District.

The Girls in Trades event gives them a chance to apply what they learn in school to careers.

"I've never thought about any of the stuff we've done so far, but a lot of them seem cool," says Kiara Litz, 8th grader, Seymour Middle School.

"I thought it would be fun because my parents don't do this, so I wanted to see if maybe somebody else in the family could do it," says Chayse Nelson, 6th grader, Wrightstown Middle School.

Seymour teacher Angie Arenson has been bringing girls to the event since it started. She's watched it grow. She's watched it transform her students' thinking.

"And I do have girls that are excited to go into those as a possibility of a career someday," says Arneson. "So it does really impact the girls in a bigger way that I could ever imagine."

More than 1,000 young girls have taken part in the event.