Tanya is a planer operator – surfacing and smoothing rough lumber. She also works the resaw – a system for processing larger dimensions of lumber into smaller dimensions. She started in the mill bagging pine shavings because she needed extra money. Twenty years later, she is still working in the mill and has a career.
One of five girls, Tanya’s Dad ensured she was no stranger to hard work. “Manual labor is all in your head” she tells me as she smoothly works the levers and buttons in the cab of her planer. “You have to have the right mindset to do this work.”
This gal likes her schedule, a predictable timeline, her own space, and she prefers working with men. “Women can be pretty awful to each other.”
Building a future…
As proud as she is of her skills and her work, it is clear that Tanya has also continued working at the mill for financial reasons. She wants her kids go to college. Family health care benefits are nothing to take for granted – not to mention the proximity of her job to home and family.
Create your choices…
Tanya notes that her job does not offer much opportunity to dress up or feel very feminine. She wants her daughter to have more choices than she did. She wants her daughter to have the privilege to choose a job based on more than necessity.
When asked what advice she would give her daughter, Tanya gives a wry smile and says she hopes her girl will to college and find a career that she loves – where she can dress any way she wants to.
Author’s Note: I am looking for more women to interview who work in trade and non-traditional roles. If you or someone you know would like to talk with me you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org – Attention: Women’s Work.
All photos – copyright Julia Petersen, 2019