Build Together, Women of the Building Trades is a national CBTU program that promotes, supports and mentors women in the skilled construction trades.

In Canada, women represent only 4% of the construction trade workforce;

construction is seen as the “last frontier” in terms of increasing numbers of female representation. Other industries & sectors- the military, law enforcement, etc. have surpassed 15% female representation. The numbers of women in construction has remained unchanged for years. The tradeswomen of Build Together, together with industry support—plan to change this.

For centuries, construction workers passed on the knowledge of their craft from father to son. This generational “passing of the torch” led to insular recruiting strategies in the past. Contemporary advertising strategies perpetuate the assumption by heavily gearing images and language towards men.  The Build Together program has tailored strategies to actively recruit & retain women to the industry.

  • Lack of Awareness of the opportunities and careers in the trades.
  • Lack of role models, mentorship & support networks.
  • Flex hours- i.e. childcare.
  • Lack of employment opportunities.
  • Discriminatory recruitment and hiring practices.
  • Gender appropriate washrooms onsite.
  • Lack of safety equipment or improper fitting equipment for women.
  • Workplace exclusion, harassment, discrimination & limited organizational practices to address it.
  • Accommodation for pregnancy.
What the local/union/employer can do:

  • Respectful workplaces: training programs for stewards & foreman, diversity in the workplace training for crew members, procedures & policies to address bullying and harassment, zero tolerance policies with real consequences (accountability). Resources found here: http://buildtogether.ca/resources/respectful-workplaces/ Please note that CBTU can send hard copies of the handbooks to anyone who requests them.
  • Industry leadership- setting the tone & expectations from the ‘top down’ can help to shape company culture to one of inclusivity.
  • Mentorship training for Journeypersons via the CBTU Mentorship Alliance: https://buildingtrades.ca/what-we-do/mentorship/ please note that CBTU is offering a 50% discount for affiliated unions & signatory contractors.
  • Networking, conferences and events for women – this helps with feelings of isolation.
  • Ensuring proper fitting safety equipment and gear for women & gender appropriate washrooms/changerooms onsite.
  • Flexible work hours to navigate special circumstances around childcare schedules.
  • Start a women’s committee- this can help address a few issues: less isolation for women, mentorship, networking and the committee can help promote the trade & local/employer, creating an awareness of the opportunities of careers in the trades.
  • Developing a Pre-Delivery/Birth Maternity Benefit – Discussion Document 
Myths and Realities for women in the trades
A lot of the barriers that face women are the existing myths and stereotypes about our ability to do the job well. While these myths are just that—myths—studies have shown that women are not completing their apprenticeships and are under-represented in many trades.

Even the most persistent myths are easily dispelled with facts and the reality of the workplace:

“Jobs in skilled trades are not good jobs for women.”
“Jobs in skilled trades are not creative.”
“Skilled trades are just for students who don’t excel in academics.”

The Women Working in the Skilled Trades and Technologies: Myths and Realities report sheds some very important light on these and other misconceptions.

Advertising and recruitment strategies are also heavily geared towards men, which encourages the misconception that the trades are a career path for men only. This is simply not true. The number of women actively pursuing and succeeding in the skilled trades is growing.

How you can help
Act as a mentor or role model to young women who want to pursue the trades
Get involved with your union or female trade groups and help challenge these myths.
Talk about your career! Is it exciting? Are the benefits great? Why did you get involved?BuildForce Canada has released several studies that analyze the current state of women in the trades. The more you educate yourself, the more you can help encourage other women to go into the trades, but also help them complete their training and retain their jobs.Women’s Network PEI put together a detailed needs assessment about employment and gender gaps in trades and technology. Among their findings include a detailed overview of many of the challenges that today’s tradeswomen come across.The general consensus in the report is that employers are willing and able to hire women, but a lack of education and some systemic issues can create a negative workspace.Some of the challenges may include:

  • Intimidation, discrimination or sexual harassment
  • Lack of on-site female washrooms
  • Fewer or no other women on staff can contribute to feelings of isolation
  • Concerns about physical strength and ability to do the job
  • Absence of employer or institutional human resources policies that can protect women

It is common for small employers not to have written human resources policies, but for many of the larger unionized companies, you can generally find some form of personnel policy, sexual harassment/fair treatment policy, code of conduct and/or ethics policy.

It is important that you contact your union if you have any questions or concerns with challenges you’re facing at work.


Provincial Chapters of Build Together, Women in the Building Trades

Mentoring and attending local events takes teamwork and we’ve found the best teams are local people committed to helping other women enter the skilled trades. Check out these chapters and watch for more to come!

British Columbia & Yukon

The British Columbia and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council Provincial Build Together Chapter

Facebook page

Paving the way for women to thrive in the building trades –news release announcing three reports on issues related to women in the building trades in British Columbia

The reports:

-Enhancing the Retention and Advancement of Women in Trades in BC – February 2017
-A Women in Trades Program Matrix for BC: Priorities and Implementation Options – March 2017
-Services to Support Tradeswomen: A BC Environmental Scan – November 2017


Building Trades of Alberta Provincial Build Together Chapter


Building Trades of Saskatchewan Provincial Build Together Chapter


Build Together Manitoba



New Brunswick

New Brunswick Build Together Chapter! (Co branded with New Boots – Progressing Women in Trades / Nouvelles Bottes )

Nova Scotia

Building Trades of Nova Scotia Provincial Build Together Chapter

Newfoundland & Labrador

Building Trades of Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Build Together Chapter

The inaugural meeting of the Build Together, Women of the Building Trades Newfoundland & Labrador Chapter at the Trades NL: Building Trades of Newfoundland and Labrador office.




These supplementary resources provide more information and local context on how to plan your career in the trades.

Resources are listed in the language they are available.


Careers in Construction

List of Organizations that help women to get started in the construction trades provided by Careers in Construction.

Careers in Trades

The Careers in Trades website was developed by the two organizations and launched more than five years ago as part of a national career awareness campaign.  It remains one of the most popular sites in Canada for information in the skilled trades.

Sisters in the Brotherhood (SIB)

Because increasing diversity in the construction industry has long been a goal of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters leadership, SIB encourages members across the continent to attend educational conferences and to partner with other organizations to address workforce goals for women on public and private construction projects. 

British Columbia

Industry Training Authority

The ITA Women in Trades Training initiative is part of a long-term strategy to match women’s skills to the needs of BC’s workplace. ITA’s Women in Trades Training is funded through the Canada-British Columbia Job Fund Agreement (CJF).

Trades Discovery

Trades Discovery programs are designed to allow participants extensive access to the available trades and technical training at BCIT campuses. Students gain hands-on experience in approximately 15 different trades disciplines.


Women Building Futures

Established in 1998, Women Building Futures is a leader in trades training for women, with extensive experience recruiting women into the heavy industrial workforce at a consistent employment placement rate of 90 per cent.

CAREERS: the Next Generation

CAREERS: The Next Generation is a unique, non-profit organization raising youth awareness of career options and helping students earn while they learn through internship. We partner with government, educators, communities, industry, parents and students to introduce youth to rewarding careers and develop the skilled workers of the future.


Women in Trades and Technology (WITT)

Women exploring trades and technology careers in Saskatchewan

YWCA’s Trade Journey

YWCA’s Trade Journey is a pre-trades program that prepares women for success in their trade of choice. Trade Journey covers everything from an introduction to three specific trades, to physical fitness training, tours of construction work sites, safety training, the use of basic hand tools, work placements, and learning soft skills.


Girls Exploring Trades and Technology

Girls Exploring Trades and Technology is a project to introduce girls ages 12 – 14 to a variety of possible career futures in an enjoyable five-day camp.


Women in Skilled Trades (WIST)

In partnership with the Government of Ontario, Canadian Women’s Foundation, RESCON (Residential Construction Council of Central Ontario) and Mohawk College, The Centre for Skills Development & Training offers the Enhanced General Carpentry for Women (WIST). This 29-week program provides eligible women with the tools and training to launch a career in the Construction Industry.

Pre-apprenticeship programs

YWCA Toronto’s pre-apprenticeship programs in the skilled trades offer women a chance to build a sustainable future. Each program includes academic upgrading, safety certification and full-time, hands-on training to receive Level 1 trade certification.


Option Femmes Emploi

Option Femmes Emploi est un organisme visant à accompagner les femmes de l’Outaouais dans le développement de leurs compétences professionnelles et leur sécurité financière. Que ce soit pour intégrer le monde du travail, amorcer un changement de carrière ou se lancer en affaires, Option Femmes Emploi offre des outils adaptés aux besoins des femmes….

New Brunswick

New Boots

New Boots – Progressing Women in Trades, is a three-year initiative focused on improving completion rates among female apprentices in the construction trades in New Brunswick

Prince Edward Island

Trade HERizons

Trade HERizons is a project designed to increase the number of women in non-traditional trades and technology occupations on PEI. Women’s Network PEI supports unemployed and underemployed women explore, prepare for, obtain and maintain employment in the trades and industrial technology fields. Additionally, WNPEI works with employers to create a culture of diversity in the workplace, which supports women’s full participation in non-traditional workplaces.

Nova Scotia         

Women Unlimited

The Women Unlimited Association is a not-for-profit women’s organization in Nova Scotia that promotes the full participation of women in trades and technology.


Techsploration provides young women from grades nine through twelve with opportunities to explore science, trades and technology occupations, while creating awareness about the critical role of work in their lives.  It also helps them understand the significance of high school math and science for their future careers.

Newfoundland & LABRADOR

The Diversity Network in Newfoundland and Labrador

The Diversity Network in Newfoundland and Labrador released their study: ‘Using Balance to Build: Supporting Gender Diversity in Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Trades’. It is a goal of the Diversity Network that this document serve as a testament to the progress that has been made, and as a tool be used by other organizations as they strive to establish diversity strategies and inclusive workspaces.

The Diversity Network is a dedicated group of industry professionals and individuals from several community agencies and labour organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador- all with an interest in increasing the number of women in construction trades. They began meeting in early 2016 to share their current efforts and common challenges.

For information on the Diversity Network and the Balance to Build report, contact Joann Greeley at j_greeley@yahoo.com

Using Balance to Build: Supporting Gender Diversity in Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Trades 1990–2017 available here.

Office to Advance Women Apprentices

The Office to Advance Women Apprentices (OAWA), funded by the provincial government of Newfoundland & Labrador, was created in 2009 with a mandate of increasing employment opportunities for females in the skilled trades.

Women in Resource Development Corporation (WRDC)

Women in Resource Development Corporation (WRDC) was established to foster an environment that will increase the participation of women in the trades and technology sectors in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Have a local resource that focuses on women in the trades? Let us know! Contact our Director Lindsay Amundsen at: LAmundsen@buildingtrades.ca



buildtogether-stickersWe’ve assembled material for you to share with friends, colleagues, partners or anyone who might be interested in a career as a tradesperson. You can help spread the word about our information, resources and free online tools.  

Feel free to use any of the tools below:


Download our Sponsorship brochure to find out how you can keep the momentum going! 

Questions? Contact our Program Director Lindsay Amundsen at LAmundsen@buildingtrades.ca

Our Sponsors

Build Together is looking to expand its programming and is seeking sponsors to help realize our goals.

Our current Sponsors:

actims_logo_no_background-75 bricklayers-craftworkers-75 brotherhood-carpenters-joiners-75 canadian-piping-trades-75_0 cbtu_logo_bilingual_vert_0-sponsor75 electrical-workers-75_0 elevator-constructors-75 heat-frost-insulators-75 iron-workers-75 liuna-75 operating-engineers-75 painters-allied-trades-75 plasterers-cement-masons-75 smart-75 teamsters-75

The one constant that all Build Together members acknowledge is the role that great mentors played in helping them to overcome the challenges of being a new tradeswoman. Through your support, we can continue to connect apprentices with great mentors, and ensure that tradeswomen are retained in the field. 

There are a number of benefits to joining forces with Build Together as a sponsor, including:

  • Helping to fill the anticipated skills gap in the construction trades industry
  • Recognizing exceptional workers in the skilled trades
  • Creating opportunities for women to join the skilled trades and providing them with adequate training, education and empowerment
  • Strengthening ties with trades in the Canadian Building Trades Unions
  • Changing the face of the skills trades to make it more accessible to women
  • Providing mentorship support to apprentices and prospective tradeswomen


Download our Sponsorship brochure to find out how you can keep the momentum going! 

Questions? Contact our Program Director Lindsay Amundsen at LAmundsen@buildingtrades.ca