Many trades like construction, automotive, heavy equipment, and welding are male-dominated fields. In fact, according to, females in these types of fields make up just 3-6% of the workforce, depending on the industry. With a continued need for skilled workers nationwide, this presents a great opportunity for women to help fill these gaps.

March is known as Women in the Trades Month, and we’re taking the opportunity to introduce you to some of our female students who are breaking the gender stereotypes in these fields. Gianna Fraim is one of them, a senior in the Heavy Equipment program at Marilyn A. Noonan School at Durham from Greenville Central School District.

Gianna first became interested in the trades through her family. After some discussion with her family, she decided to explore the Heavy Equipment program.

“I thought it would be good to learn a trade since not many women do,” Gianna shared. “Being in the Heavy Equipment program helped me learn that I want to earn my CDL and Class A license to become a truck driver.”

Heavy Equipment students learn how to operate and maintain large, construction-related equipment, including backhoes, bulldozers, front-end loaders, excavators, and more. They also spend time learning how to diagnose and repair common issues with diesel engines, and earn several industry-based certifications prior to graduation.

“Getting my certifications here will definitely help me in the future,” Gianna said. “Many of the jobs I’m looking at now want you to have your OSHA 10, your OSHA 30 and more – and I have many of them. It puts me ahead of other potential employees.”

Gianna spent last summer working at GNH Lumber in Greenville through our Youth Apprenticeship Program. The program links students with local, high-wage, high-demand, high-skill careers by partnering them with area businesses where they will complete 200 hours of on-the-job training the summer between their junior and senior years. This not only gives them hands-on experience in their field, but also prepares them with additional career-readiness skills.

“I worked as a yard worker and forklift operator,” Gianna said. “I helped with load building, loading trucks, and truck inspections – which helps with preparing for my CDL. I also helped with customer relations. I now work part time with them.”

Being outnumbered in any scenario can be a difficult one, which Gianna expected going into this program. She credits having female leaders to making it easier.

“Having female teachers definitely made it easier,” Gianna said. “It was a little intimidating coming into a class of all guys, so being around other females made me feel more comfortable. It did get easier after I warmed up, but I still felt like I had to prove myself a little bit. I figured that’s probably going to happen more in the future as a woman in this trade, so I consider it prep for the workforce.”

Following graduation, Gianna plans to continue working at GNH Lumber and working towards obtaining her CDL and then Class A license. Gianna ended our interview with some great advice for other women considering entering a male-dominated field:

“Just do it,” Gianna said. “Do what your heart tells you to do. Once you warm up to it, it does get easier, and it’s fun! If it’s what you want to do, don’t let a guy stop you.”

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