Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Climb Wyoming: Empowering single moms to pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps

A story entitled "A New Job Track for Single Mothers in Wyoming" brings together my two key interests: women and rurality.

The word "rural" is not used in the story, and the dateline is Cheyenne. Nevertheless, Wyoming is a largely rural state with a total population of just over half a million (ranked 50th in the nation) and a population density of just 5 persons/square mile. The story reports on a job training program, which extends beyond Cheyenne, that responds to some of the particular challenges that women face in the context of rural job markets, where women are much more likely to be channeled into low-paying service jobs.

Here's an excerpt from journalist Kirk Johnson's piece about a program called Climb Wyoming:

But Climb Wyoming’s real core insight is female solidarity — that the group, trained and forged together more like a platoon than a class, will become an anchor of future success. New skills can go only so far in changing a life, the group’s trainers say; sometimes it takes a sisterhood.

While this story is set against the dramatic economic disparities to which gender is linked in rural places, there is more to it-- namely the tremendous solidarity among women in a program that actually seems to be "working" by getting for women some of the good blue-collar jobs that tend to be so dominated by men in places like Wyoming.

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