Superintendent David DiBarri
100 Hemlock Road
Wakefield, MA 01880
For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Northeast Metro Tech Female Students Pursue Careers in Nontraditional Trades
WAKEFIELD — Inside Northeast Metro Tech’s plumbing and pipe fitting shop, groups of students cluster around workstations, waiting for the morning’s assignment.
With a quick glance around the room, they might be missed — but upon closer look, two faces stand out. They’re sophomore Luisa Gonzalez, of Chelsea, and sophomore Kayla Interbartolo, of Chelsea.
In a classroom where they’re surrounded by their male peers, one might incorrectly assume the two girls feel out of place. But Gonzalez and Interbartolo, who are two women in a small number of students entering into fields historically pursued by men, are exceeding in the trade.
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 defines nontraditional careers as those in which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25 percent of the total number of individuals employed in the field. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the plumbing industry was made up of only 1.6 percent of women.
“At Northeast Metro Tech, young women and men are encouraged to pursue careers in whatever field they desire, regardless of industry stereotypes,” Superintendent David DiBarri said. “Students have a number of resources available to them to help build confidence and provide support if they’re pursuing a trade underrepresented by their gender.”
Almost two years ago, Gonzalez first walked through the doors of Northeast Metro Tech without a clear path in sight. However, when she stepped into the plumbing and pipe fitting shop, everything changed.
“The first day I came in, I was the only girl,” Gonzalez recalled. “I looked around and I was like, ‘OK, I can do this.’ My mom was the biggest support. She said, ‘you’re a strong girl. You can do this.’”
Today, nearing the completion of her second year at Northeast Metro Tech, Gonzalez knows she made the right choice. She’s an equal among her peers and changing history one day at a time.
As the other female in the class, Interbartolo knew she’d be pursuing a nontraditional career, but was torn between plumbing and electrical. However, after spending time in the plumbing workshop, she felt at home, and her decision was made.
“It’s kind of weird sometimes, when I look around and there aren’t that many girls that you can relate to,” Interbartolo said. “But despite it being different, it all works out.”
Plumbing instructor Alfred Santosuosso, a 25-year industry veteran, was part of a group of foremen in the Boston Plumbers Union working to increase the female workforce to 15 percent.
When he came to Northeast Metro Tech, Santosuosso brought the same goal with him, and continuously encourages students to pursue the trade if they’re interested. The plumbing program averages about two female graduates each year, about 10 percent of the graduating class.
“Luisa and Kayla, I visualize them having great potential in the plumbing industry,” Santosuosso said. “I foresee a good opportunity for them to join into something that I was part of 25 year ago. There’s nothing holding them back.”
Over in Automotive Technology, sophomore Ashley Verde, of Chelsea, is tightening lug nuts on a car.
With a future in the U.S. Marine Corps in her sights, Verde gravitated toward a trade that would complement her profession.
She joins three other sophomores who are learning the ins and outs of working on all makes and models of cars, SUVS and trucks.
The 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics had the number of women in the automotive field at 1.4 percent. Verde is proud to be a woman changing the stereotypes of the job.
“When I hear people ask, ‘why did you choose a guy shop?,’ I get offended,” Verde said. “I enjoy the challenges that come my way and I know there’s nothing I can’t do.”
Instructor Ray Nicolosi describes Verde as one of the best in the shop and that every student, regardless of gender, has the same opportunities to learn and excel in the industry.