...there is a lack of women role models and mentors for those interested in the construction industry.

Date: 2014-09-15
Author: Marie Venneri
Source: Construction Business July.August 2014
Tags: canadian, construction, women in trades, engineering, networking, mentoring, BCIT, ITA BC

Mentorship is Key
increasing women’s representation in non-traditional
jobs requires role models.

Traditionally,  construction  was  not  a field that women considered as a place to  work.  In  fact,  women  historically were  encouraged  into teaching,  nursing  or  clerical  positions.  Times  have  changed.

Through  government,  industry  and  organizations,  like  Canadian Construction  Women (CCW),  there is a  commitment  to  increasing women’s representation in non-traditional roles like construction.

There  have  been  several  Canadian  surveys conducted to understand the progress of women in non-traditional roles. In a survey conducted by Statistics Canada it was found that there has been an increase in women’s presence in the workforce between the years of 1976 to 2009.

In fact, there have been a higher number of women graduating  from post-secondary  institutions  (61  percent  of  university  graduates were women in 2007 compared to 56 percent in 1992); however in trades, the proportion of women to men was still quite low at 1-2 per cent in 2007. In 2007, out of a total of 24,495 individuals who completed an apprenticeship training program, females accounted for 2,780 or 11percent.  This proportion  has  increased  from 1991 when it was at 6 per cent. 

The construction sector council published  a paper titled The State of Women in Construction in Canada in February 2010 in which they conducted a survey to understand what influenced women in their decision to enter the construction industry. One of the factors listed as a barrier to entry was found to be that there is a lack of women role models and mentors for those interested in the industry. 

This  is  where  organizations  such  as CCW can  help.  Through  the  network  of  women  in the industry, from construction project managers to a variety of trades’ women, they can help pair women together for mentorship or simple guidance. It is a great resource for women in the Vancouver construction industry to get support from  other  like-minded  women  who  share  the same type of experiences. 

Women  have  more  opportunities  than  ever for training and many schools encourage women to join the trades. The following is a list of some resources for women to gain more information about the trades:

The BC Government job plan website lists several programs and services to help people gain  skills  and  find  employment.    Under the Women in Trades Training section see: www.itabc.ca/women-trades/overview.  Thisis a great resource for learning about different trades, ways of getting trained and funding opportunities.


TradeWorks  is  an  organization  based  in Vancouver that provides carpentry training to women and youth with multiple barriers to employment: www.tradeworks.bc.ca


BCIT Trades Discovery for Women  provides  an  opportunity  for  students  to  gain hands-on  experience  in  a  variety  of  different trades with the goal to help find the one trade that the student is passionate about:  www.bcit.ca/study/programs/1190acert.

There are many challenges and unique situations in construction where it is beneficial to have people with a variety of backgrounds working on a solution.  Women can provide a different perspective and contribute to a balanced work environment.  

Marie-France  Venneri,  P.Eng,  LEED  AP BD+C, is a mechanical engineer at AME Consulting Group with eight years of experience in the industry. She is also currently the Vice President of the Canadian Construction Women and has been involved with CCW since 2008.

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