“Construction is not just a man's work place,” Brian Courtien said on Tuesday. “Construction jobs in the building trades unions are careers that offer great wages, and benefits and every member of our community has an opportunity for employment.” Courtien, Training Director of the Finishing Trades Institute of MD, VA and DC, was addressing the third meeting for women in the skilled trades, organized by the Metro Washington Council’s Community Service Agency. “Women are a large population of talent that are under-utilized and we hope programs like this will not just start the conversation, but change the perception of construction,” said Courtien at the Finishing Trades Institute, which hosted the event. “I’m living proof that we can do this,” says apprentice Rochelle Ramsey-Walker in a brief video.
“We can be successful, this is a viable option for us, and we shouldn’t be counted out. Definitely count us in.” Ramsey-Walker is a second-year apprentice with the Painters and a member of the advisory group for the Women in Apprenticeship and Non Traditional Occupations (WANTO), which funded Tuesday’s community building activity. “These women come from different facets of the construction trades and strategize about building community, supporting apprenticeships programs and each other in the struggle for gender equity,” said Emma Brennan, WANTO Technical Assistant Project Manager. During the meeting, the members of the committee were able to observe an all-female pre-apprenticeship class in action. "This program is just the beginning of more great things to come,” said Courtien.