Women Take The Wheel Event Highlights Careers in Maritime
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Women take the wheel event highlights careers in maritime

As part of the national initiative, American Graduate: Getting to Work, WHRO has been engaging with community partners in an effort to promote high-demand, skilled jobs that do not require a four-year degree.

Through multimedia content and promotion, WHRO showcases the work being done to help students, parents, educators and businesses become aware of and connect with training, apprenticeships, resources and job searches to jumpstart a career.

Recently the Southeast Maritime and Transportation (SMART) Center and the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast partnered together for the first annual Women Take the Wheel event. All of the girls registered for the event learned about skilled career opportunities in trucking, shipbuilding and repair, and the maritime industry.

Participating community partners included Givens Trucking, Huntington Ingalls Industries and Newport News Shipbuilding, the US Army and US Coast Guard, Colonna’s Shipyard, Virginia Ship Repair Association, Tidewater Community College and the City of Virginia Beach Fire Department Station 18.

Girl Scout Brooke learns how to tie knots from CDR Maureen Kallgren.
Girl Scout Brooke learns how to tie knots from CDR Maureen Kallgren.

Girl Scouts attending were happy to get hands on at the various exhibits, learning how to tie knots with CDR Maureen Kallgren with the U.S. Coast Guard, and trying their hand at piloting a large vessel with Jennifer Palestrant of the SMART Center in the maritime simulator.

As part of the event, participating Girl Scouts received a custom made Women Take the Wheel badge. Girl Scouts Marketing and Communications Director Marcy Germanotta shared, “We are very excited the girls had this opportunity. When girls are asked to talk about their dream job, not many of them say they dream of being a carpenter, ironworker, truck driver or electrician. That’s because many of them think they can’t perform these jobs and these jobs are only for men. Not true. Giving girls opportunities to explore nontraditional careers at events such as this one is a door opener. In most cases male-dominated jobs pay more than female-dominated jobs. Giving girls hands-on experiences with these jobs goes a long way in debunking myths they may have heard, and they can work toward earning Girl Scouts badges on their career exploration.”

The event was the brainchild of SMART Center Outreach and Education Manager Tobey Allen. When asked what her goals of the Women Take the Wheel event she shared, “As a mom of a daughter, the oldest of four girls and a former professional firefighter, I wanted girls to see the opportunities in careers that have always been considered as ‘man’s work’. Times have changed and we need people in skilled careers to make the future.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women represent only 6.2 percent of truck drivers. The International Transport Workers Federation estimates only 2% of global seafarers are women.

By continuing its work with area community partners, WHRO hopes to increase the number of women and individuals overall participating in skilled careers.