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article imageShattering the glass ceiling

By Khalid Magram     Dec 22, 2008 in Lifestyle
Alice Crimp and Jaralene Mohan are among growing number of women, who work in non-traditional professions such as, facilities maintenance (Superintendents), plumbers and automotive technicians among others.This can be tough.
Alice Crimp drove to Blair Court from Broadview Manor in Toronto just after her lunch break, ready to carry on her daily duties as a superintendent. Almost immediately after reaching Blair Court, she hurried upstairs to inspect the problem in one of the apartments in the building.
Crimp is a senior superintendent with Toronto Community Housing (TCH). She is in charge of two TCH’s buildings. Crimp was also the first woman to work as a senior superintendent with TCH twenty-five years ago. Six-days per week, she runs back and forth between Blair Court on Donlands Avenue and Broadview Manor located at Broadview and Danforth Avenues to make needed repairs.
A little farther to the east of the city, Jaralene Mohan, a licensed automotive technician is conquering men’s world one car at a time, at her family owned garage situated at Danforth and Dawes Avenues.
Crimp and Mohan are among a growing number of women, who work in non-traditional professions such as, facilities maintenance (Superintendents), plumbers and automotive technicians among others. For women, working in these kinds of skilled trades, establishing their identity in a male-dominated occupation can be very challenging.
However, for Mohan and Crimp skilled trades also provided them with a sense of self-respect, independence and a unique status among their peers.
For Mohan, 29, is repairing cars.
“It (My job) gives me a good sense of pride, I mean you take pride in what you do and in what you achievement,” Mohan said. “You feel strong and independent.”
The feedback for Mohan has been all positive so far.
“I’ve gotten lots of positive reaction,” Mohan said. “Especially from women and a few guys as well.” Most of the customers when they learn, Mohan is the one who is going to work on their car, “They go, cool!” she said.
Mohan also thanks her father Rawle Mohan for encouraging her to learn about cars since she was four-years-old. At the same time, she also thanks her father for encouraging her to doing other things also.
“My father supported me in everything I wanted to do, be playing soccer, cricket and even at times when I wanted to play with a Barbie doll. He let me,” Mohan said. At the end, she was the master of her destiny and followed her father into the profession. She added.
Mohan said if there is one negative aspect her profession, then it is the fact that most men feel threatened to see a woman in a skilled trades occupation.
“Most guys are intimidated by my career choice,” Mohan said. “Some guys are even afraid to ask questions in fear that they might look stupid.”
Although an automotive technician’s job require a person to have strong upper body strength because of the heavy lifting involve in the profession. Mohan maintain her feminine physic.
“I do work out to build my strength, but I don’t want to have big muscles.” Mohan said. After all, I am a woman, she added. “Beside my husband wouldn’t like it.”
For Crimp, 53, is facilities maintenance job.
Her biggest challenge to establish her identity as a superintendent was to convince TCH tenants, who are mainly seniors that she was capable of doing a ‘man’s job’. Be plastering the ceiling, getting dirty under a kitchen sink or for repairing a broken fridge. However, she always had to do an exceptional job every time just to prove her capabilities.
For example, Crimp remembers at times when she had to raise above the traditional stereotypes comments from some tenants.
“In the beginning some tenants used to say why the housing (TCH) is sending you to do a man’s job,” Crimp said. “I was always hands on, proving to them my ability to perform,” It took a while, but then she was able to establish her status first, with the tenants and later on with her co-workers, she added.
Crimp, said she ignored and kept doing her job when some of her male colleagues at her workplace tried to discourage her. But, when her male co-workers, started judging and evaluating her only in terms of her gender. That made her very angry, she said.
“Because I was opening the doors for other women at TCH,” Crimp said.” Most men didn’t like it.” Some of her colleagues judged her and even showed resistance before they had seen her work ethics, Crimp added.
Crimp always wanted to work with seniors. She did work at seniors’ nursing homes before coming to TCH .
However, it became hard for her when most of the seniors where she used to work started passing away. She decided it was time to move on to TCH.
Crimp is proud of herself for not, being discouraged by the challenges she faced in the beginning of her career. She also thinks she is showing a good example to her daughter. She said.
Crimp said, many of her women seniors tenants thank her and they are glad she is the one who was there when they were taken ill, so she could dress them up instead of having a man do it.
More about Identity, Women skills trade, Toronto
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