Sue is finding that refrigeration work requires some climbing and -twisting mound in tight -- and often dirty -- places. But she says she can learn to live with that and broken fingernails. "I never did like pretty fingernails' For Sue Rowland, apprentice in refrigeration at the University of Arkansas physical plant, getting dressed /or work means khakis instead of dresses and wrenches instead of fingernail files. Cooling it down with a lady's touch A couple of years ago, the U n i v e r s i t y of Arkansas' physical plant officials decided to employ a female secretary rather than another male one. It seems the males who had been taking cave of the record-keeping in the environmental control department kept quitting that job to join the physical plant's apprenticeship program. So UA-officials came up with the perfect solution: employ a female to handle the secretarial d u t ' i - e s . They'Â· 'hired Sue Rowland. The plan backfired a month ago when Sue ^resigned from her secretariat! job to begin a five - year apprenticeship program in the University's refrigeration program. She is the first woman to begin the federally-approved refrigeration p r o g r a m i n Arkansas and the second woman to enter any type of federally-approved apprenticeship program in the state. Why did she switch jobs? Sue said that as a secretary for the environmental control department in the physical plant she used to handle the refrigeration mechanics' work orders that outlined what the men did on their jobs. "I've always been interested in mechanical things," Sue said. "I used to come out and watch the guys work on a unit." She also said the extra money paid apprentices and journeymen was a major incentive in applying for the job. Mother of a 13-year old son and a Johnson resident, Sue said that although she took a cut in pay to become an apprentice this year, by next year she will be making more as a second-year apprentice than she would have if she had remained a secretary. First-year apprentices earn 50 cent of the journeyman's pay, salary on the UA campus for ': time,put in on : the job. Second year apprentices receive 60 pel- cent of the journeyman's pay and increments during the third, fourth, and fifth years are 10 per cent each. In the University's apprenticeship program, which was approved by the U n i t e d States Department of Labor Â· three years ago, Sue will attend four hours of classes each ' Monday and work with a journeyman, Paul Dickerson, on campus jobs the rest of the Week. While the University has had an apprenticeship program for the past 12 years, Sue's foreman Fount Frederick, pointed out that only when the program became federally-approved did classes begin. After five years of training and classes, an apprentice earns a journeyman's certificate, Frederick said. He likened the certificate to a college diploma. "At the end of this period. Sue will be qualified as a refrigeration mechanic anywhere she goes," he said. This first month has been mostly orientation for Sue. "I spend most of my day using a screwdriver and a wrench and doing a lot of walching," she noted. In the past few weeks, she has acquainted herself with on- campus equipment and various tools and machinery concerned with her job. "I can now tell a compressor from a condenser," she said with a laugh. 'I'm going to enjoy it. I like working with my hands," Sue added that she has broken three fingernails since she began the job. "But I never did like pretty fingernails," she said wryly. The reaction she has received has been highly favorable. Sue said her boss, Frederick, was not surprised when she told him she wanted to apply for the job o p e n i n g i n refrigeration. "That's because he knew me!" she said. A woman in what used to bo a man's field is not as shocking as it once was,.she pointed out. She had somewhat of an advantage in that the men she's now working .with knew her as a secretary. "Naturally there are some who look at you from the corner of the eye," she said. "But it will be all right after the new weai's o f f . "A few men resented it when they heard I was applying for the job. They didn't . think I could do the job. But there's really not that much heavy lifting and moving done by one person." Sue said two or three men will work together in handling heavy equipment. "I'm going to h a v e to strengthen my grip.' Sue commented. "Using tools requires a strong grasp. But both men and women would have to do this when first starting th kind of job." About her son's reaction, Sue said, "He thinks it's interesting and likes the idea." Will lie follow in his mother's footsteps? Sue laughed, and replied "He's musically inclined right now. But he did do some carpentry work in school and seems to work well with his hands." J. T. Casebolt, veteran refrigeration mechanic, also serves as instructor for the apprentice, pointing out the whats and, whys during an overhaul 0} the student health center's air conditioning system. Story by Peggy Frizzell Photos by Rick Pendergrass With her partner Paul Dickerson, Sue visited a "quick freeze" room in the animal science building on campus, as part of regular maintenance rounds. Without a jacket, the -35 temperatures were somewhat uncomfortable. Sometimes, the new apprentice gets into the work, monitoring gauges and adjusting valves. Some, of the larger machinery is noisy enough that workers have to yell to be heard.
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