Since 2015, the percentage of women participating in our industry has grown. Up from three percent, women now make up almost five percent of the workforce. According to the Ontario Construction Forecast, this growth has been driven by increased wages and stable job prospects.
However, this same forecast shows that the percentage of women in trades is expected to drop somewhat over the next few years. How do we combat this trend? For National Women’s Day, March 8th, we want to focus on this problem and share some of the most interesting tips from last year’s women in trades conference.
Women in Trades Awareness
Part of the reason why women are not drawn to the trades in large numbers may be because they are not exposed to the trades at a young age. To promote exposure to the trades, last year’s women in trades conference suggested several solutions:
• Send tradeswomen to schools, both K-12 and high school
• Bring youth to construction firms and open houses
• Offer support programs for female students and apprentices.
Another key strategy to keep women engaged in the construction industry is to ensure our workplaces and fellow employees have the training needed to respect and include women. The Supporting Women in Trades conference suggests that we make such training mandatory.
Ways we can respect women in the workplace include:
• Have a zero-tolerance policy for workplace harassment
• Provide infrastructure for women: female-fitting uniforms, washrooms, locker rooms, nursing rooms, etc.
• Provide women with the same mentorship opportunities available to men
• Retain female employees at the same rate men are retained, to provide job stability.
How We’ve Improved
The Supporting Women in Trades conference was an optimistic event, filled with room for improvement and celebration of past successes. In 2018, more women were hired by small and medium trades companies than ever before, which is a huge gain for all!
One employer is leading the way with 50 percent female tradespeople. Another has eight female carpenters, two in leadership roles. As word of these success stories spread, our hope is that more women will be inspired to work in the trades, and more employers will be able to achieve the same results.
The Hamilton-Halton Home Builder’s Association is dedicated to getting more women in involved in our industry and building on our past successes. If you’re a woman who is interested in the trades, contact us for information about our apprenticeship program.