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Working women break down the stereotypes

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Photo: Video by IdahoOnYourSide.com

Working women break down the stereotypes

By Lauren Johnson. CREATED May 19, 2014

In 1942, Rosie the Riveter changed the definition of what it meant to be a working woman, and today, Tracy Reeves, a mother of two, carries Rosie’s message wherever she goes.

"I grew up with fully capable women, grandmother, mother, aunt. I didn't know there was something I couldn't do," said Reeves.

Reeves is a welder, a plumber, a pipe-fitter, and even a teacher.

"As far as staying home, here in the valley, raising a family, you can make between $50 and $60,000 a year,” said Reeves.

She loves what she does, and supports her family while doing it.

"I am the sole bread winner in my family," said Reeves.

More women are finding that job security doesn’t always come in a college degree, but in a trade—a trade often considered a man’s job.

"You can do anything you want, really. You just have to have the will to try," said journeyman Carole Sue Byers.

"This trade isn't for everybody, you know, male or female, just as nursing or teaching or whatever isn't for everybody, but you know, if it fits you, why can't you do it?" says Reeves.

"The women in our local have begun to break down those stereotypes, and showing other women that we can,” says John Kierce, business manager at Union 269.

Kierce was raised by a single-working mother, and as a business manager for the union, he once asked why there weren’t more women in the jobs. He blames much of that on advertising, which he said is changing.

"We continue to find that women possess skills, and the aptitude, and the willingness, and the dedication to do it. And all they lacked was the opportunity," said Kierce.

It’s not just Local Union 296 where women are headed. At Northwest Lineman College in Meridian, Gil Maiuro says that women are not just coming to the 15-week training course, but they are needed.

"Grid management, and project managers, and substation operations, and it's a great path. There's a huge need," said Maiuro.

"You get a journeyman's license, and you make the full rate--26 dollars on your paycheck," said Kierce.

"As far as lay-offs in this career path, unheard of. Totally unheard of," said Maiuro.

As many mothers rely on welfare, Reeves and her co-workers find themselves with a good salary, benefits, job security, and a career they love.

"There is a shortage of welders, so, you can work anywhere you want to go," said Byers.

Of course, with all careers, the fit needs to be right. I decided to learn what it was like—training for a day in welding and pipe-fitting.

At the end of the day, they gave me a passing grade, and I left with a greater respect for what these women accomplish day in and day out. It seems Rosie the Riveter and her message lives on—the jobs are there, the pay is good, and as these women have proven, we can do it.

"You always want to be better for your kids than what you had, and the union has provided me that opportunity, to do that for my children," said Reeves.