8 Mar, 2018
This International Women’s Day 2018, we celebrate the many phenomenal Canadian tradeswomen from coast to coast who serve tirelessly and fearlessly as advocates and mentors for women in the skilled construction trades.
These tradeswomen work hard to ensure that women are treated fairly, equally, without prejudice, discrimination and harassment. They want to make the workplace a safe and welcoming environment for women who enter the workforce behind them.
They are passionate about their careers and yet they continue to be faced with barriers and hurdles that many of us can’t even imagine having to deal with in the workplace. It’s hard work to feel you have to ‘fit in’, it’s hard work not to stand out just because you are a woman, it’s hard work to have to go over and above to prove you can do the job based solely on your gender. It’s hard work to even get a foot in the door. These women have taken on the burden of fighting for basic things like respect, proper fitting safety gear, accommodation for pregnancy, flexible childcare, harassment free work environments and fair and equitable hiring practices; all on their spare time.
It shouldn’t have to be on tradeswomen to fix the barriers within our industry but they have chosen to take them on and our industry as a whole is better off because of it. The best thing we can do to support these women is listen to them, provide them with opportunities in leadership, get behind the issues that matter to them, champion the cause and lead by example.
These women are leading by example. Many are actively involved in their unions and have been hired as staff or elected to their local union boards. They organize women’s committees, events and mentor fellow tradeswomen. They speak in classrooms, to the media and at conferences, they lobby elected officials and actively network and form partnerships with like minded organizations to further the cause.
On February 27th, The Government of Canada released its 2018 budget which outlined over $75 million dollars towards women in trades programming. This was broken down between a combination of grants, pre-apprenticeship programming and a Women in Construction fund. All of this is a result of the many tradeswomen and women in trades organizations that have been championing these issues for years; it is such a proud moment and an exciting time to have support and resources behind these efforts and we hope this continues. There is much work to be done.
The tradeswomen of Build Together through their provincial chapters have put together a vision statement of their work and what careers in the skilled trades can look like for women in the future:
“We have come together with the goal to provide information, support and networking for women interested in or currently working in the construction trades. In Manitoba there is a very small percentage of women working in these jobs. We see these as viable careers, with equal pay and opportunities; but also present barriers which discourage and prevent women from choosing a path in the trades. We are working on having conversations with government, employers, educators and the general public about how these barriers can be addressed and how we can encourage women to consider and thrive in careers in the construction trades.”
-Build Together Manitoba
“Build Together Alberta is striving to be the mentor, resource and support system that hasn’t always been readily available in the province. We aim to provide informative career advice about our experience in the unionized construction industry and work with local organizations, industry leaders and government representatives to pursue equal opportunity, remove stereotypes from the workplace and provide legislative input. As Build Together Alberta grows so do the opportunities for young people and women in our province.”
-Build Together Alberta
“The vision and goals of the Saskatchewan Chapter is working towards giving young women the chance to explore and try the different trades and educate them on the benefits and opportunities that come with a rewarding career in the construction industry. We want to empower them to know that not only is there a space for women in these industries now but many opportunities for advancement and growth to leadership roles and beyond while also acquiring a skill set they will have for a lifetime.
We will continue to work hard and lead by example for the women to come after us in hopes that one day they will not continually have their skills, abilities and competence questioned every time they walk on to a jobsite.”
-Build Together Saskatchewan
“We wish to see a great increase in the numbers of women in the building trades and to see them thrive in their work environments. We wish to see an increase in programs and resources for these women. And we wish to see more young women and girls talking about trades as a potential and successful career. We are working towards equity in the workforce.
Our dream is that all women will be treated with dignity and respect. This will improve the industry and society as a whole. It will also create a safer work environment and a powerful workforce”.
-Build Together BC
Today, we applaud and thank these women for their efforts and stand behind them in their dreams and visions for a more diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace.