Tradeswomen Tuesday: Jacqueline Townsend, Journeyman Bricklayer, BAC Local 74, Chicago

What is your Trade, Local and where are you from?

I’m a journeyman bricklayer.  My union is BAC local 74 in Chicago IL.

I’m a 35 year old woman who has a strong love for God and believe that He makes it possible for me to be able to do what I love and be successful at it. I’ve been fortunate to work with Iwanski Masonry for the last 11 years. I was recently given the role of safety manager for my company.  I also am a safety instructor for the Bricklayers District Council Training Center in Addison IL. Next to my passion and love for bricklaying, I love mentoring and paying it forward to aspiring tradeswomen and being one of the instructors for Chicago Women in Trades Technical Opportunities Program.

When did you join the trade? What attracted you to it?

I was accepted into the bricklayers prejob back in January 2005. I graduated prejob after 12 weeks on training in April of 2005 and was officially a union apprentice bricklayer.

I knew I wanted to be a Bricklayer when I attended Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT) Technical Opportunities Program (T.O.P). We went to the bricklayers for an 8 hour workshop and I fell in love with the craft and knew instantly that I was supposed to be a bricklayer.

Describe how it felt when you were starting in the trade. What did you like?

I was excited, nervous, and anxious. I liked the company that I started working for. I liked and appreciated that I worked with a group of guys that were not intimidated by me and were open to teaching me my trade.

What do you enjoy most about your trade?

In the beginning I enjoyed and love the fact that I was finally doing something I could be proud of. Being able to learn a skilled trade that is fun to do. After 11 years in the trade, now I love being able to mentor other women in the trade as well as teach safety.

What are the challenges or what challenges have you faced and/or overcome?

The major challenge I had to face always had to prove myself to my male counterparts and occasionally I still have to when I encounter men that have never worked with me or ever heard about me before. I tend to not be bothered by it. I get a kick out of seeing the expression on their faces after they see me do my job.

What skills or traits have made you successful? What is needed to be successful in the trades?

Having an open mind, good interpersonal communication skills and an eagerness and desire to learn has made me successful in this trade

What is your vision for the future for women in the trades?

I see more women being successful in the trades and holding positions of leadership. Retention will become issues of the past. And women will begin passing their trade down to their daughters and granddaughters.