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WISE girls change perceptions in industry: new website promotes technical careers for women.

It is funky, flashy and informative.

But best of all, it breaks the stereotypical images most people retain of professions within the science, engineering, trades and technology (SETT) fields, according to Helen Francis, professional geoscientist and vice-president of the Canadian Coalition of Women in Science, Trades and Technology (CCWEST).

Francis, a member of WISE (women in science and engineering) Sudbury, led the launch of their new and interactive career website, www.WISECareers.ca, during the Ontario Construction Secretariat's Building Futures Conference on April 28.

By linking with the skilled trades show, it was hoped the website would receive more exposure and bring to light the gender imbalance in most SETT professions. The launch also addressed the shortage of skilled trades workers and technologists in Northern Ontario, and that Sudbury and Northern communities offer great opportunities for careers in SETT.

"We wanted to provide a mechanism to as many students as possible, along with their counsellors and their parents to enable them to ask the question they want to know about careers within the SETT fields," Francis says.

A $25,000 government grant funded the project through the Ontario Women's Directorate, which sponsored it as part of the Partners for Change Consortium.

The website is the development of WISE Sudbury, a local volunteer group, and their community partner Workforce Partnerships Board (formerly called SMTAB).

The site profiles over 60 male and female role models in SETT professions.

Although the target group is Grade 9 and 10 students, it may be of interest to any student seeking more detailed information about careers specific to SETT.

The profiles are based on questions comprised from Grade 9 and 10 students from Sudbury because these career issues are explored within the curriculum, says Francis.

She added that the people profiled on the website are multi-dimensional and their careers in SETT have helped them build interesting lives.

"We've also tried to represent a diversity of ages, cultures and life experiences to show that SETT disciplines are for everybody," Francis says.

Barbara Groeneweg from Lockerby Secondary School in Sudbury thinks the site is useful.

"I've been thinking about going into engineering, but I don't really know what it is," Groeneweg says. "It (the site) gives me a better idea of what I can do." Ivana Pen, also from Lockerby, believes any career could be for anyone. She doesn't base her career choice on whether or not women are in the field.

If a student is interested in a particular career profiled on the site, they may contact WISE with their questions, who in turn, will make an appropriate response.

Also included on the site is a list of all the possible careers offered in SETT, including wage information and educational requirements. There are also facts about Sudbury and a list of Northern Ontario cities and towns.

www.WISECareers.ca

By ADELLE LARMOUR

Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:NEWS; women in science and engineering
Author:Larmour, Adelle
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:478
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