Empowering Women in the Trades Event

Each year, adults and students in the trades, local industry partners, career centers, advisors, BOCES board members, administrators and instructors get together for this event for roundtable conversations and presentations. They discuss the challenges women face and discover more ways to encourage women to choose these paths. 


In addition to BOCES administration, three guest speakers took the stage with messages of data, accomplishments and empowerment supporting women in trades. 


Dr. Turina Parker, District Superintendent of WSWHE BOCES stated, “Dedication and perseverance has made it possible for future generations to follow in their footsteps, but our work is far from over. We must continue to include wellness, diversity and inclusivity in the trades so that every woman who dreams of a career in these fields has the opportunity to pursue it. We must provide support, mentorship and resources to empower women to excel in their chosen professions…”


Tori J.E. Riley, Director of Business Development at C.T. Male Associates & Project Consultant with Saratoga Economic Development Corporation shared valuable insights including statistics of the numbers of women in the trades and the most sought after trade opportunities. 


“Never stop learning, no matter what you are doing. As you look at skilled trades, listen to different people and how they got to where they are. There is no one way to “get there.” You have a plethora of resources and people that sit in positions that can connect you,” said Riley. 


Jessica Savignano, President of Savignano Construction Services, told her story to the audience. She had some tough days but once she began work at her second job site, it was transformative for her and she knew she chose the right path. From her experiences, she has created her own company offering many services including mechanical HVAC/Pipe Drafting, BIM management, fabrication drawings, project take-off, Point Cloud Processing and more. 


“I”m still learning every single day. We need to have more women in this industry. We bring something different to the table and that’s needed. If you are willing to learn and take on those challenges, there is no end in sight to all you can learn,” said Savignano. 


Hailey Kopacz, Automotive Technician at Saratoga Honda and former student talked about her experience with the BOCES program and her path to working in the automotive industry. The support she receives from her employer is a testament that there are many supportive avenues for women who choose a career in the trades. She plans to attend the Welding program with BOCES to add to her skills for her career. 


“Don’t be scared. Just do it. We are capable of doing what anyone else can. Be eager to learn, keep learning and that will help you grow.” said Kopacz. She shared the value of the BOCES program and how that gave her a stronger foundation when she started at Saratoga Honda. “BOCES gives you the essential information to achieve good things,” continued Kopacz. 


The evening ended with roundtable discussions and conversations about ways to support other women entering into the trades and in their organizations, as well as discussions about the importance of mentorship and where to find potential female students and female employees to recruit. 


The US Dept of Labor Statistics reports that women are substantially underrepresented (relative to their share of total employment) in agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, and transportation and utilities. There are opportunities for learning and careers in these industries that WSWHE BOCES aims to help women realize are out there. ETA, WSWHE BOCES and CTE are focused on narrowing the skills gap. 


Employment Training for Adults is a division of WSWHE BOCES.


Food provided by the CTE Culinary Arts & Hospitality students. 


Flower arrangements provided by the CTE Horticulture, Landscaping & Floral Design students.


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