Courntey Hasse, a welder at Michigan State University Courtney Hasse, welder/pipefitter at Michigan State University

Gender is no barrier for these Michigan women building careers in the Professional Trades.

You could say that they’re helping to break the glass ceiling.

But more literally, women entering traditionally male-dominated Professional Trades are in the habit of building things.

They’re also creating a legacy of helping to address the critical shortage of workers to fill high-skilled occupations throughout Michigan.

Projected economic growth, evolving technology and a decline in Michigan’s working-age population means the state will have 545,000 jobs open through 2026, largely in construction, manufacturing, healthcare, automotive and information technology.

The new Going PRO in Michigan campaign, spearheaded by the Talent and Economic Development (Ted) Department of Michigan, is the largest effort in state history to support the recruitment and retention of talent to address Michigan’s labor shortage, which poses the single greatest threat to the state’s continued economic recovery.

Going PRO aims to elevate the perception of Professional Trades by highlighting that multiple pathways lead to rewarding, well-paying careers.

But then, many women in Professional Trades already know that. We asked a wide variety of them to share their stories and the reasons they love their jobs in order to inspire girls and young women who are exploring career options.

Read on for these working women’s perspectives.

Courney Hasse standing in her welding shop.

Courtney Hasse, welder/pipefitter at Michigan State University

“I would tell other women interested in the trades that it’s not easy, but it’s definitely rewarding in the end. You just have to keep a good head on your shoulders and stay focused. Don’t let anyone else put you down and say that you can’t do something just because you’re a woman.”

Sheryl Shay, a millwright at Michigan State University

Sheryl Shay, millwright at Michigan State University

“In my family, the boys did boys stuff and the girls did girls stuff, and I hated that because I was a tomboy. My brothers got to work on their bikes, but I wasn’t allowed to use tools, so I would sneak tools and work on stuff – and then I would forget to put them away and my dad would yell at me. In my role as a millwright, I can come in and look at a piece of equipment that is totally messed up and I know what to order, how to order it, how to size it out, pop it all together, turn that switch on and when that thing runs smooth, it’s just like YES. That’s all I need.”

April Toune, a mason at Michigan State University

April Toune, mason at Michigan State University

“The project in the Children’s Garden was one of my favorites. The artist made all the tiles by hand. It was actually really nerve-wracking since they were all handmade. It isn’t like if you broke a tile you could just go get a new one. I just love the way it looks and how beautiful it is. I know that people are going to come there every day and throughout the year to look at it and it will make people happy.”

Lindsay Hasse, plumber at Michigan State University

Lindsay Hasse, plumber at Michigan State University

“It’s fun to have a skill set that you can take anywhere you go. It’s really rewarding when people can smile about something as simple as having fresh water to drink or that they are able to flush their toilet and use their refrigerator with the ice maker working properly. It’s super exciting to go to work every day and to find something new to challenge myself with. There’s just something about digging into the ground to put pipe in that nobody else knows is there except for me. It’s just a super weird feeling, but I love it.” 

Tracy Anderson, gas service worker at Consumers Energy

Tracy Anderson, gas service worker at Consumers Energy

“Because I am a first responder, it is very comforting to know our customers can count on us for their personal safety and the natural gas services the company provides. I like that my job is very customer driven. It makes me feel like I’m doing something great every day by providing the services we do. People depend on what we do, not only for their gas, but for their safety as well. We are the boots on the ground and we are face to face with the public. We tend to give out a lot of hugs and comfort to customers when some of them have been through some very difficult situations.”

Jordan Cobe, IT at Consumers Energy

Jordan Cobe, IT at Consumers Energy

“When I was younger, my older brothers always had the newest technology – and I always got their broken computers afterward. I had to continually figure out how to fix them so that I could use them. A lot of people think IT and they think it’s boring. They hear processes and they think that’s pretty boring, but it’s not. We are always working with the newest technology, which is really exciting. My passion for solving problems and helping people is really what drove me to stay in IT.” 

Olga Collino, Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Program gas field leader at Consumers Energy

Olga Collino, Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Program gas field leader at Consumers Energy

“I worked for 20 years for three major companies in retail. I learned how to transfer my knowledge into something different when I started at Consumers Energy. Advice I would give to other young people is to remember that every single experience you have adds value to you. Think about the experiences you have, whether that is volunteering or education and see how that translates into other career opportunities.”