Like many other women, Casey Ferkul loves spending time with her dog and her husband and enjoys spending her spare time playing action sports. What sets Ferkul apart from most is her career. She is a steelworker, one of a growing number of women working in trades.
Women have not been traditionally associated with the trades and social stigmas can sometimes prevent young girls from considering those careers as a viable choice. According to Fekul, these “roadblocks” are very real but her life experience helps her to persevere.
“Fortunately I grew up with my brother and his friends so I know how to take a punch so to speak,” Ferkul remembered.
Ferkul didn’t always know she wanted to work in the field. Rather, she developed a love for hands-on work and accumulated the skills necessary for it by working at her parents’ canoe outfitting business. It was the experience gained from a few odd jobs and her acceptance into the labourers union that landed her a job at U.S. Steel.
Ferkul regularly works 14-hour shifts and says they can be exhausting.
“The bulk of the month you spend working” Ferkul commented. “You’re out of the house for 14 hours a day so that’s literally all you can do is get home, pack a lunch, shower and go to bed.”
While the hours can be quite demanding, Ferkul says the time off is just one of the many benefits she enjoys working at U.S. Steel.
While Ferkul has had relative success, she admits the career choice has had its ups and downs, usually directly related to the current price of steel. Working at the steel giant also means working as part of a team or crew. With these crews often being dominated by older men, coworkers are bound to butt heads from time to time.
Ferkul explained: “Coming onto my crew as someone’s child helped. Everyone knew me and looked out for me.”
“Of course you can’t get away from some men’s attitudes,” she added, “but for the most part everyone has been great.”
Many have come to the simple conclusion that women have just as much of a place in the world of trades as men. However, Ferkul has learned to never underestimate ignorance.
She gave this parting advice to other women and girls looking to break into the field.
“Don’t take crap from anyone but pick your battles,” she cautioned. “The best way to react to any situation where someone is putting you down is to just laugh in their face and walk away because you’re better than the petulant teenage bull****.”