As a child, Tonya Hicks spent her summers in her grandparents’ garage with her uncle. He was an industrial mechanic and taught her how to build a motor from scrap. While she later often encountered men telling her that women don’t work in math-related professions, she has followed her grandmother’s advice: not only can women do everything, they already do everything and always have. After seeing that electricians were using math constantly, she dropped out of college and in 1998, became the first woman electrician in Local 917 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the first Black woman journeyman in Mississippi. In 2000, she launched her business, Power Solutions, and in 2015, started a career-training agency, Women Do Everything. These days, she is thinking a lot about how to get more young people interested in a career in the trades. Her ideal solution? A blue-collar internship program that would allow high-school students to work with companies.

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