When Paige Russell, 18, completes EVIT’s Culinary Arts program, she will be armed with what she needs to succeed in an industry dominated by men: first-rate skills and confidence.
“EVIT Culinary has given me the hands-on learning needed for my field, but it also has given me the training and the confidence to dominate in the kitchen,” said Russell, a Mountain View High School senior who is completing culinary training this week at the East Valley Institute of Technology. “EVIT Culinary has given me the determination and the passion to prove my skills in the workplace
so I won’t be undermined, but respected for my abilities.”
Culinary Arts is one of 16 career training programs at EVIT that are considered “non-traditional” for female students because women make up less than 25 percent of the workers in that industry. Others include:
Automotive Technologies, Aviation, Collision Repair, Construction Technologies, Diesel Technology, Emergency Medical Technician, Fire Science, Future Engineers, Law Enforcement, Machining Technology, Plumbing, Radio/Audio Production, Robotics Engineering, Video Production, Welding and Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC).
Women are much more likely than men to be in low-skill, low-wage jobs, according to the American Association of University Women website www.aauw.org. The AAUW maintains that more needs to be done to encourage female students to enroll in nontraditional career and technical education programs so they have the opportunity to obtain “high-wage jobs that will adequately support themselves and their families.”
The culinary industry is a good example of the gender disparity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up 54.5 percent of those employed in food preparation-related occupations in 2015. But only 19.6 percent were employed as chefs or head cooks who earn the highest wages. Instead, women were much more likely to be employed as waitresses (70.1 percent) or hostesses (82.1 percent).
EVIT encourages female students to pursue non-traditional careers whether it’s in culinary arts or firefighting or the industrial trades. They set an example for other female students as they break stereotypes and close the gender gap, and many employers will actually give them first consideration for job opportunities because they want to diversify their workforce.
Russell and her EVIT Culinary Arts classmate Sarah Palmer, a senior at Combs High School, plan to be leaders in their industry. Russell will attend Scottsdale Community College before going on to Northern Arizona University to pursue a hospitality management degree. After she graduates, Palmer plans to go on a mission and then when she returns, operate a catering business with Russell.
“EVIT has prepared me very well for what the reality is of
working in the industry,” said Palmer, 18. “It truly is a majority male society. All that does for me as a woman, however, is give me the opportunity to prove myself and be better.”
EVIT is still accepting enrollment in Culinary Arts and all other programs for 2016-17. To apply, go to www.evit.com.
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