Today’s rapidly shifting society shows us that positive change in social norms can occur as a result of societal pressure. The notion of equality for all gives us hope for a future free of barriers. Society is changing, yet a spotlight is needed on an industry that continues to fall short: Trades.As many industries have been pressured to push for change and steer away from the old boys’ club mentality, the trades industry seems to have slipped by.In an industry that has been operating at a status quo for many years, the time has come for the door to open for female trades workers. Some may argue the door has been open for many years, others may say the barriers are too great to allow for females to succeed.The reality is that the underrepresentation of women in trades will only change if we start to see the bigger picture. Through education, mentorship and an open mind from business owners, female trades workers will be as prepared to succeed, just as their male counterparts do.The gender wage gap is shrinking, society is changing and women are now encouraged to seek out independence through employment. Statistics Canada estimates that Canadian women are earning approximately 87 cents to the dollar in comparison to their male colleagues, and in the trades the gap significantly shrinks to 98 cents to the dollar. The nearly equal wage amongst genders is an exciting opportunity for women seeking employment. Knowing they are entering an industry that statistically compensates at a nearly equal rate to men is promising.
Kendall Ansell, of Belle Construction, says that many employers, fearful of any distraction a woman may have on the construction site, simply choose not to hire female workers — and that has to change.
Trades programs, including at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology) have set out to advocate for inclusion in the trades. Training skilled female workers has been a consistent focus, but the gender imbalance is significant when you look at the labour pool as a whole.According to a report issued by the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Association, women account for only 4.5 per cent of skilled trades workers. With so few women currently working in trades, the perception from potential female workers is that industry is unwelcoming for women. The result is a low female applicant pool as women avoid these employment opportunities altogether.The question then lies in how we can shift the perception to create an industry where women feel empowered in a career in the trades.The burden lies on the companies that provide employment opportunities for trades workers. Fearful of the distraction a woman may have on the construction site, many employers are choosing to simply not hire female workers. This needs to change.I am proud to have established Belle Construction, the first female-led construction company in B.C. Our mandate seeks to employ and empower female workers, creating a career pathway where they feel safe and empowered to grow and develop. There is a significant gap in the market where clients are in search of a female team to execute their project.I urge other female entrepreneurs to follow suit and create companies that encourages a new status quo. Let’s evolve our thinking and begin creating construction sites where it is more common than not to see female workers. Let’s create an industry that welcomes women, that encourages inclusion and that challenges the status quo, so that as our children grow older they can be whoever they dream to be.Kendall Ansell is principal of Belle Construction, the first female-led construction company in British Columbia.Related
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