Women Unlimited breaking down barriers
Women Unlimited takes a long-term approach to providing support to women interested in working in trades and technology. They mentor participants from career exploration, through pre-apprenticeship training, to employment and retention. It’s a model that’s had life-changing results for women like Ann Wilson, a Contract Management Analyst who started her career at our Tufts Cove Generating Station.
from left to right: Caroline Blair-Smith, VP of Human Resources; Lia MacDonald, VP of Customer Experience & Innovation; Ann Wilson, Contract Management Analyst; Dave Pickles, Chief Operating Officer.
Tell us about your experience joining Women Unlimited?
“I started the program knowing I was good at fixing and building things, but I had no idea which path was right for me. I went into it thinking it would be hard and uncomfortable. I was breastfeeding at the time and was a busy mom, but Women Unlimited was ahead of the curve for work-life balance. They supported my responsibilities as a mother. They wanted me to succeed—my success was their success. They helped me solve any challenges and gave me space to explore, so I could find the right path to follow.”
How did the program help prepare you for the workforce?
“First, they help you understand what your options are and what jobs are out there. Then, they connect you with women working in those trades so you can learn about their experiences—that’s how I was first introduced to the team at Nova Scotia Power.
As soon as you get a sense of what you’re interested in, they jump in and help you find the right opportunity. I left the program prepared to come to work. I had the practical skills and certifications I needed, but also the problem-solving skills to navigate the workforce.
When I got my job at the Tufts Cove Generating Station, I was prepared. I had my ticket to operate a forklift, I had safety and first responder certifications—I was ready to take on the role. From Tufts Cove, I was able to stay at Nova Scotia Power and move into system maintenance and substation roles. I was the first person in the company to have a flatbed truck with a jib—and that’s because I identified the need and had the confidence to make the case for it. Women Unlimited helped me hone those skills.”
Ann Wilson, Contract Management Analyst, at our waterfront headquarters.
What are some of the barriers women in trades and technology face?
“It’s tough to break into an industry or a workplace where there have never been any women. It can feel intimidating and like more pressure to prove yourself. There was an added layer for me because I’m a woman and also Black.
I think you can acknowledge what you’re walking into and make a choice to be confident. Remember that you belong. Tell yourself ‘I know what I’m doing and you’re not going to make me feel small’. Don’t let anyone say you can’t do it. You’re capable.”
What advice do you have for women considering a career in trades and technology?
“Explore the things that are natural for you—sometimes it’s the skills you don’t give credit to that can lead you to a career! Are you good with measurement? Do you like fixing things and working with your hands? Are you safety-minded? For me, when I walk into a room, I can tell if the foundation is too high. I understand construction. Women Unlimited can help you identify your natural abilities and aptitude and help you find the right path.
The best advice is to keep an open mind, trust in yourself and explore the possibilities!”
At Nova Scotia Power, we value and promote diversity, equity and inclusion. For more information about our culture and careers, please visit our Careers page.
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