Challenging herself and the supposed norms surrounding gender and the workplace, while also serving her nation, were the key factors that persuaded Roudha Ali Ibrahim Ali to set her sights on competing in WorldSkills, when it is hosted in her home country.
The Emirati will participate in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, having decided last year to search for, “something that would explore hidden skills and interests that I didn’t even know about,” as well as bring benefit to the UAE.
“As our country and region largely depends on air-conditioning for a comfortable lifestyle, I felt the whole process of cooling – designing, fabricating, finding the best solutions – would be an interesting field,” she explained. “It has allowed me to experience multiple skills at the same time, like electrical installations, welding, piping, and drilling as well as theoretical aspects, and it has given me a wonderful feeling that I can fully handle a very wide-ranging topic.”
Soila Korhonen can testify to the fact that women sometimes struggle to find where opportunities lie – having found a gateway to her chosen profession purely through her own initiative, and the internet.
The Finnish aircraft maintenance professional only learned when she started her vocational training in the field that she could have applied earlier. “The barrier was the lack of knowledge,” she explains.
“When I finished school and was trying to figure out where to head next, I was given options deemed ‘suitable’ for me. I was interested in aircraft maintenance and had no idea there was a training school close to where I lived, until I found out about it myself through the internet. But I’ve no hard feelings, and I think such barriers to entry are getting lower and lower in Finland.”
Honouring the past is how Charlotte Martin sees her future – with her ambitions literally set in stone.
A qualified stonemason, the 26-year-old from Belgium stands out in her chosen field as a woman working in a highly-specialized craft with a gender ratio that is tilted heavily towards men. But she feels that is now starting to change.
Her passion for historic monuments and interest in restoration led her to stonemasonry, and as she says, “I wasn’t worried about being a woman in a field dominated by men – when I took training courses in stone conservation abroad, half the staff were women.”
Charlotte’s immediate aptitude for the job saw her claim a gold medal in the WorldSkills Belgium National Competition, before participating in EuroSkills Lille 2014 in Architectural Stonemasonry as the sole female Competitor. “It helped me to get to know myself and what I was capable of doing,” she said. “I had to work on stress management, motivation, speed, precision, organization – all necessary qualities for a good stonemason.”
Those qualities took her through an 18-month apprenticeship in Germany that concluded with her qualifying as a stonemason last year, and becoming a team leader – and the only woman – at a Belgian restoration company. Her WorldSkills and EuroSkills experience has been vital in equipping her for success.
Petrolhead painter Alex Banks is combining her love of cars and creativity to make her mark in a male-dominated industry.
The 21-year-old from Wellington, New Zealand, has already won a gold medal in her skill – Car Painting – in her home country’s WorldSkills National Competition. Now her career focus is fixed on competing in WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.
Alex was inspired to work in this field because, “I enjoy restoring cars back to how they looked when they were brand new.” She took a work experience placement at her local panel shop, where she is now a full-time employee.
WorldSkills is proud to formally endorseHeForShe – a solidarity movement for gender equality, led by the United Nations. WorldSkills is joined by Members of WorldSkills across the globe, in backing this vital push for gender equality in vocational education and skilled professions.
In recognition of International Women's Day, 8 March 2017, WorldSkills will profile a series of women working in skills and encourage people from around the world to take the HeForShe pledge. Visit our HeForShe page for the latest profiles of women working in skills around the world.