Women learn job skills at Englewood seminar

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The Englewood Women's Initiative held an event Wednesday to provide women on Chicago's South Side with the skills needed to get a job. (WLS)

The Englewood Women's Initiative held an event Wednesday to provide women on Chicago's South Side with the skills needed to get a job.

Overcoming obstacles is the purpose of the first-of-its-kind seminar aimed at women from Englewood. Hosted by Kennedy King College, several organizations have come together to show women that becoming an entrepreneur or pursuing careers in the trades and construction are great options.

"I've got a good paying job, I even own my own home, own a car, pay taxes," said Tamika Ward, a carpenter. "Everything they'd say I couldn't do 'cause of my background, I did."

Ward was there to show women that if she can succeed, anyone can. After spending 15 years in prison for armed robbery and home invasion, she pursued a career in the trades. She is now a successful union commercial carpenter who has worked on projects all over the city, including Wrigley Field.

"You've got to be willing to do things you would normally do, most women don't see themselves in construction," Ward said.

Opening a business is something women are learning about as well. Participant Stacy Greer, a 29-year-old mother of five, dreams of owning her own greeting card business.

"I know a lot of women going through a lot of different things and we all need the extra push and support," she said.

"Sometimes you don't know where the resources are hidden, this is an opportunity to put that out there and push info," said Nicole Johnson, of Teamwork Englewood.

But to succeed, Ward advises women you must really want it and don't let anyone tell you no.

"I got told 'no' at McDonalds. Now I can build one, see how that works," she said.

Ward and others point out that there is a lot of room for women to grow in the trades. Women only make up 9 percent of construction jobs and they are payed the same as their male co-workers. This event was the first of what organizers hope are many seminars that help women in Englewood achieve economic security.
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