Connie Ashbrook co-founded Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. in 1989 after working several years as an elevator constructor. The organization is devoted to helping women learn about trades. Last year, OTI helped 36 women find construction work.

On Saturday, May 3, they're holding the Women in Trades Fair, from 9 am to 4 pm at the Local 290, 20220 SW Teton Ave, Tualatin. It's open to the public, and it's focused on women, but men are also welcome. Call 335-8200, or visit

What does an elevator constructor do?

I constructed elevators inside a building. We worked on elevators, escalators, dumbwaiters, and moving walkways. You know how a train goes on tracks? An elevator goes on similar type of tracks--it has wheels that keep it from banging against the walls of the building.

Is it possible for an elevator to fall?

There are so many safety devices to prevent that. Cable elevators are suspended by at least three cables; each one can hold up the capacity of the elevator. When an airplane flew through the Empire State Building back in the '50s, it cut all the cables and the elevator fell. But that's a once-in-a-century freak accident.

What should we expect from the Women in Trades Fair?

We have 63 exhibitors and ten hands-on workshops. At the cement masons and bricklayers' exhibit, you can try using a trowel and mortar. Christianson Electric's exhibit will teach you to wire your telephone. PGE will have a telephone pole where people can watch climbing demos.

By "trades," we mean building, construction, mechanical, and utility jobs. Electricians, mechanics, laborers, cement masons the full gamut. Carpenters and electricians are the most popular 'cause women know about them. But women get really excited about doing sheet metal work and being a cement mason once they get a chance to experience it and understand what it's about. JULIANNE SHEPHERD