Copyright 2005
Girl's Best Friend Foundation

Girl's Best Friend Foundation (GBF) closed November 2007. 
GBF’s records are archived with Special Collections of the University
of Illinois, Chicago.  In fall 2008, they will be made public:

Grantee Profile: Chicago Women in Trades

The Chicago Women in Trades' Aspiring Tradeswomen Program supports junior and senior females enrolled in Chicago Public Schools Career Academies' nontraditional vocational career programs. The program provides four summits for students from all participating high schools to ensure success in their high school programs and to promote entry into and retention in high-wage, high-skill nontraditional careers. The young women gather for hands-on activities, team building, problem solving, tradeswomen's stories, coping strategies for young women in shop classes, and school tours.

Participating career academies include: Westinghouse, Manley, Dunbar, Tilden, Prosser, Chicago Vocational, and Hubbard.

Overall. the summits were a great success, with more than 100 young women participating in at least one. During the last summit, it was refreshing to see the young women from each school interact with young women from other schools and share their work, which included blueprints, photographs, and evidence of their work in their respective shop classes.

In addition to the Aspiring Tradeswomen Program, Chicago Women in Trades works with young women from Prosser High School. Here, young women are involved in planning, evaluating and providing leadership at summits. The members of Young Women’s Advisory Group serve as an advisory group to CWIT's Girls Program and bring attention to gender disparities that still exist in vocational/ technical education and provide a platform for girls' voices.

The CWIT Young Women's Advisory Group collaborated with Street-Level Youth Media on a 22-minute film documenting two of the summits. The video incorporates interviews with tradeswomen mentors and Aspiring Tradeswomen Participants and includes photographs taken by Young Women's Advisory Group members. 

Student comments from the summits included:

  • "This is a good opportunity for young women."
  • "When we were connecting the wires first it was, like, difficult, and then when I seen the light it was, like, success."
  • "To be honest, I really enjoy everything that the tradeswomen had to offer."
  • "I think my group got a real feel of what a job is like when you have to share tools, wait on people that are not keeping up, dealing with changeovers and overtime and dealing with stress and working together."
  • "The activity that I enjoy the most is making a house as a group. The reason is because one day my dream house may be build from the ground. I really enjoyed the fieldtrip and the activity’s today it inspires me more."

One senior sheet metal student stated that the Aspiring Tradeswomen program "kept hope alive knowing that you can work with women that know what they are doing with their hands that you know you aren’t the only one… you don't have to be afraid of doing something different than a normal girl."

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