e-Blast: June 2018

CCDA Statement on Women in Trades

June 21, 2018

It’s About Ability, Not Gender

The CCDA and all of its members are celebrating the hard work and dedication of the women who successfully work in the skilled trades. In the skilled trades, the majority of which are male-dominated, women have faced unique challenges including gender-biased stereotyping, lack of female mentors and positive role models, and challenges balancing caregiving responsibilities with unsupportive work arrangements and inadequate access to childcare. Not only are these women successfully entering these occupations, they often do so in very small numbers. Women continue to be largely under-represented in the skilled trades. 1

But, Why So Few Women in the Skilled Trades?

Gender research suggests that male-dominated occupations are often surrounded by a culture that does not anticipate or respond adequately to the needs of women and diverse groups. This culture can create a barrier for many women wanting to enter the labour market and break through to the careers they really want. Women who start apprenticeships may not complete to certification because of the workplace culture, even with the promise of better wages.

We Need to Act

The research also shows that this culture does not reflect the actual beliefs and values held by many men and women. This means that change is possible and change can start with us. Many workplace leaders are implementing sexual harassment and respectful workplace policies. In many work sites, this has improved the environment for all employees.  Unfortunately, we are not there yet and women continue to experience inappropriate conduct at work. Employers and labour organizations must continue to play a leadership role to create change. With everyone working together, we will ensure these policies translate into safe, respectful work environments.

It is time to create a new culture that revolves around diversity, passion, artistry and, most importantly, ability, not gender. We must continue to create collaborative cultures and reframe work environments so we are all aware of our biases and support the success of everyone.

Blaze a Trail; Leave a Legacy

The evidence is clear – the best and most effective way to increase the number of women in male-dominated fields is to SEE women working in them! So we salute Canada's female apprentices and journeypersons for following their dreams and forging a path for other women.

If you are a young girl or woman interested in apprenticeship, look for role models and seek mentors and colleagues that support you in your journey. Be prepared to stand up for your beliefs. Know your strengths and skills, your values, your talents and your passions. We encourage you to pursue your interests and follow your dreams.

What Can You Do?

The CCDA is calling all leaders to action. Get to know what is going on in your workplace and ensure the women working in the skilled trades are given quality work, supported to learn and carry out their tasks successfully, and experience a respectful workplace. We can all do better – for our mothers, daughters, and sisters.

Together we can blaze the trail! There is power in numbers.

1 In 2015, women represented 9% of continuing apprentices in Red Seal trades, this drops to 4% if traditional women dominated trades are excluded (hairstylist, cook, baker, etc)

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