Breaking Gender Stereotypes
We caught up with Jennifer Schindel, a committed Christian and one who has carved out a stellar career with ETS.
1.Tell us about Jennifer, what makes you tick?
I’m a woman of many colours a product of all that I’ve been exposed to. Being raised by West Indian parents in a North American culture has produced in me an interest/thought pattern that says what I was taught was good but there’s more to learn.
2. Career choice is important, was “Transit Operator” a dream you had?
The Transit Operator position was an opportunity I recognized God made available to me. It was an answer to a long desire/love I had to drive a big vehicle. From the age of about 9-10, I dreamt of driving an 18 wheeler truck.
3. You are a resilient and goal oriented person, was there anyone in your life that caused you to be that way?
God gave me parents that naturally exposed me to work towards the things I need or want despite whatever challenges may come my way.
4. You now occupy a senior position in a male-dominated role, what has been your journey and how you managed to remain focus?
This is a very all-encompassing question. I’ll start by saying the journey hasn’t been without its struggles inwardly and out. I was content being an Operator but the Lord worked for me to move on. The interview processes were a struggle. Ultimately, the positions initially were a struggle too. Not only were there the jealous coworkers that believed them to be better than I was but there was the inner struggle that I was facing. I too didn’t think I was good enough, educated enough, smart enough. That struggle appeared bigger and stronger than any other negative force.
I am here in this position right now only because of God’s grace. I wanted to give up so many times because of the extreme discomfort I felt for so long. Being in awe to see my name on my office door but as I sat at my desk throughout the day I heard “You’re a fraud, they’re going to find you out. You don’t belong here, you have no credentials”. That struggle was internal and it was real.
I have to focus on God to gain strength to overcome. That voice is now just a distant memory and I’m growing stronger as I overcome each battle.
5. Transit Operator is a non-traditional job for a woman, how do you cope with the stereotypical view of a woman’s place?
Growing up in North America has somewhat broken any stereotypical view of women. My coping mechanism is to focus on what needs to be done rather than waste energy debating what women should or shouldn’t be doing.
6. What role do you think the church can play to help women to take up non- traditional roles and to better prepare them to take advantage of many opportunities for employment?
I believe the church functions in a box sometimes which then stifles the abilities or gifts of an individual who has abilities or gifts that don’t fit into that box. The church needs to nurture its women to answer God’s call to be. Talent is being left behind because we’re not forward thinking. Some women are struggling and genuinely unhappy with their current rolls knowing fully well they should be pursuing something more.
7. What is the skill set necessary to be a successful Transit Operator?
First, a person has to be safety conscious. They carry the lives of many in their hand every working day. They do need to learn how to drive a 49 and 60-foot bus. Surprisingly, that is the easiest part of the job for most to learn even for those who started out with only a class 5 licence. Map reading and navigation skills are also important. The person they interact with outside their home on their way to work and the Operator have the power to make or break that person day. Conversely, people have the power make or break the Operator’s day.
8. What would you say to other women, especially Christian women who may be considering a similar path?
Know what your God-given talent is. Set your course in that direction. You may not get there early in your life. It may not be the best paying job. You may even get push back or negative response from your Christian family but remember this…..your talent was GOD given and he has a purpose for you. Focus on Him and He will see you through to the end.