Gonzales Girl Scouts of all ages listened to challenges women face working in careers traditionally held by men at a “World Thinking Day” event Feb. 19.
About 30 Girl Scouts from troops 10340, 10103, 10462 and 10506 attended the event at First United Methodist Church.
“These lovely women speaking tonight work in fields that were traditionally for men," said Brenda Shuff, who coordinates activities for all of the four troops in attendance. “The girls will find out what inspired them to go into these fields and the challenges they face as women.”
Since 1926, the Girl Scouts have celebrated World Thinking Day to focus on international connections among girls. The tradition expands awareness and honors cultures on an international level.
Speakers included a process plant operator, prison employee, firefighter, astrophysicist, security guard and a lawyer. After each speaker made their presentation, the scouts asked questions.
Allison Tanner, a process operator at Shell, works with about 20 other employees in her department.
“The men and women in my department all get along well,” Tanner said. “Sometimes workers may talk about things that are uncomfortable. We bring it to their attention and discuss it together.”
Kissie Hebert, a troop leader, worked for the Department of Corrections for 16 years at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
“I’ve never been scared being around prisoners,” Hebert said. “There have been times when I’ve been uncomfortable. You have to treat prisoners with respect because they are humans, too.”
Taylor Allen, a Prairieville firefighter operator who drives firetrucks, grew up knowing she wanted to be a paramedic, but she eventually she became a firefighter.
At the beginning of her career, Allen faced challenges working with firefighters, most of whom were men.
“There’s always somebody who doesn’t want you there because they have to act differently than they normally would with just men,” Allen said.
Allen works with the Prairieville Fire Department. She enjoys working for PFD because it’s smaller than other departments she’s worked for in the past.
Carrie Cormier, another troop leader, spoke about her career as an astrophysicist.
“When I was younger, I liked science projects, but my friends did not,” Cormier said. “As I got older, there were less and less girls at science fairs.
“On my first day of college, I was the only woman in one of my science classes. The professor asked me if I was in the right class.”
Cormier’s mother, Rhonda Whittington, discussed her time working in the security industry for various local hospitals.
Whittington believes the security industry has made strides allowing women in the industry because they’ve seen how resourceful women guards can be.
“They (the industry) found that putting females in those roles can be more effective than men because we have empathy,” Whittington said. “We handle situations differently from men.”
Over the years, people told Whittington she shouldn’t be in security.
“The more they said I couldn’t do something, the harder I tried and did it,” Whittington said.
Troop parent Aimee Pittman is currently going to school to become a librarian. She is switching careers from previously being a divorce lawyer.
“There were older lawyers who didn’t want to have women in school,” Pittman said. “I could see they weren’t as helpful to me as they were to men.”
For more information about Girl Scouts, visit www.girlscouts.org.