Her Own Words® Women in Nontraditional Careers series highlights women at work!

Our career series features women working in a wide variety of nontraditional jobs. All of the women interviewed are real-life workers; they are not models or stock photos. Our resources, with their strong STEM emphasis, encourage young people to widen their perspectives on potential career paths. Her Own Words® materials are used across the country in programs for Workforce Development, CTE, Special Populations, Perkins, Parent Involvement, and Career Exploration.

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“Research indicates that access to role models is one of the most effective strategies for expanding women’s consideration of nontraditional careers. The [programs] and posters developed by Her Own Words provide great media vehicles for bringing these role models into your classroom. … These materials are on my highlighted resources list whenever I conduct training with teachers on how to increase the participation and completion of women in nontraditional career preparation programs.” – Mimi Lufkin, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity

“Encouraging women to consider nontraditional careers can be very challenging, but when there are excellent resources like Her Own Words, women can SEE and HEAR for themselves the benefits of pursuing such occupations. The fact that these are real women working in nontraditional careers gives a significant advantage to those viewing by providing an inside look into the field. It is almost like doing an informational interview from the comfort of your own home or computer!” – April McHugh, Career Counselor and Career Development Facilitator & Instructor, LPC, NCC

Nontraditional careers (also called nontraditional occupations or NTOs) are those in which women make up less than 25 percent of the workforce. The pay, benefits and job satisfaction can be much higher than in traditionally female occupations.

“You spend so much of your life at work,” as one woman says. “You spend more time at work than you do with your family at home. If you don’t find something that you like to do, you’re going to be miserable. You’ve got to just keep looking and looking until you can find something that you enjoy doing.”

Women, like men, find that a variety of factors make a career a good fit for a particular person. Some people like to work outside; others prefer to avoid the elements. Some people want a great deal of personal autonomy and responsibility; others want to work as part of a larger team. Some people are looking for a job that allows them to do physical work or to use tools. Some are looking for a job where they can dress up every day; for others, that’s the last thing they would want. Some like to travel; others would rather stay close to home. Some people feel money is the most important part of job satisfaction; others disagree.

Careers that are nontraditional for women include a wide array of diverse occupations and our programs offer audiences an opportunity to hear dozens of women describe their work and what they like and don’t like about their jobs. The women workers include police officers, firefighters, machinists, engineers, electronics technicians, entrepreneurs, carpenters, plumbers, painters, welders, and manufacturers.

All of the Nontraditional Careers programs, career cards, and posters feature real women workers. “All speak confidently about the work they do and why they like it. The series underscores the excitement and growth potential of career choices and changes. The concept throughout is that the women who do the work are the experts” (Labor Studies Journal).

Her Own Words® materials are used enthusiastically by teachers, counselors, career-exploration-day organizers, equity team members, workforce development directors, and career and technical education (CTE) professionals throughout the country. Because each woman speaks directly to the audience in her own voice and in her own words, the materials are suitable for many ages. The conversational style of the programs appeals to a wide variety of audiences, from high school and community college students to four-year college and general adult groups. All of the media programs are Closed Captioned. Each poster highlights nine women workers and a selection of inspiring real-world quotations about work. Perkins Funds can be used to purchase these materials.

These materials have been positively reviewed by a variety of professional sources, including School Library Journal, School to Work News, Today’s Librarian, Labor Studies Journal, Learning Resources Materials Update, and Wisconsin Police Journal. Jocelyn Riley has been recognized by the State of Wisconsin with the 2018 Governor’s Trailblazer Award for Women in Business and Her Own Words® materials have won many national awards, including the Write Women Back into History award from the National Women's History project, the Barb Landers Memorial Award from the Association for Gender Equity Leadership in Education, a Selected Films and Videos for Young Adults award from the American Library Association, and a Gold Medal from the International Film and Video Festival of New York.

The materials in the Her Own Words® Women in Nontraditional Careers series are ideal for CTE Month presentations, vocational counseling, career exploration days, library programs, scout and youth groups, one-stop centers, Women’s History Month, and Women’s Equality Day. 



“Both educational and inspiring . . . excellent . . . a valuable resource for high schools, vocational and technical schools, colleges, libraries, and anyone who works in career education and career counseling positions.” – Labor Studies Journal

“These inspiring programs feature women speaking directly to the audience about their careers and the challenges and rewards of working in a nontraditional career. Useful resources for educating young women about nontraditional careers. Recommended.” – College Spotlight

“Recommended for grades six and above, vocational schools, colleges and career centers” – Educational Media Reviews Online 

“Real women talk about their work, what they love about it, and what the challenges are.” – Daughters