Meet Liz Sgroi
Liz Sgroi, NEW graduate and instructor, mother of two, and only female instructor for the Carpenters, answered a few questions about her experience in the trades and at Nontraditional Employment for Woman.
What where you doing before you heard of NEW?
I was a dental hygienist for 21 years.
Did you like it?
I got to the point of saturation. I left a practice, had some free time, and a friend told me about NEW. I was unemployed and NEW came along, now here I am.
Why did you want to go into the trades?
I always tinkered around at home and fixed things. I never thought going into the trades was an option.
Once enrolled at NEW, did you know you wanted to do carpentry?
Yes, after a little bit I knew I wanted to do carpentry. I don’t know why but it seemed more versatile. Originally I wanted to do ornamental ironwork, but they did not have slots for women.
As a student, what was your favorite part of NEW?
Seeing that there were other options available and other women in my position. I felt inspired to try something new.
As an instructor, what was your favorite part of NEW?
My favorite part was watching other people achieve that tangible high. Being able to watch the women coming from not understanding a bolt to then looking at a room that they built. It is very satisfying.
What do you do now?
I teach at the District Council of Carpenters full time. I teach classes on ceilings, drywall, and other introductory courses. I see the women from NEW over there while they’re still at NEW and then once they are placed.
What have been your most memorable experiences while working in the trades?
One was when I was working on a Cauldwell Wingate project that Susan Hayes helped to organize with Ronsco. There were many women in a variety of positions such as hoist operators and electricians. It was great to see.
Another exciting time was when I was invited to be part of a women’s conference in Las Vegas in 2005. The conference focused on placing women in the trades and retaining them. There were more than 400 women and it was incredible to see so many women involved and to participate in it.
What has been your most difficult experience while working in the trades?
When I was working in carpentry, taking classes at night, and being a mother. It was very hard.
What advice would you give to NEW’s current students?
What I usually tell all of them: approach the industry with respect and leave your sense of entitlement behind. Barriers are being broken and you must realize the opportunity you have and the education you are being offered. You must understand your position as a NEW woman and not let anyone think you are taking advantage of these opportunities in a negative way.
What is it like to be part of the Carpentry Women’s Committee, led by Elly Spicer?
It’s great. It is a place to network, connect, talk, and find out about jobs. There is a sense that we’re all in this together.