A Message To Manitoba’s Tradeswomen.
June 9, 2021
I awoke to this morning’s national coverage of the $15Million lawsuit filed (and subsequently dropped) against a female carpenter for speaking out against the blatant discussion of sexual harassment of women on construction sites during a popular construction podcast. This news provided a platform for a broader discussion of harassment and challenges that women continue to face in our industry as a whole.
The construction industry provides well-paying jobs with benefits. The skills required to work as a skilled trades professional provide long term stability and opportunity. A middle-class income and a career pathway are two areas that continue to be out of reach for women in our society. Women should be encouraged to explore their skills in the trade and take advantage of all the opportunities these careers provide. The culture that still exists in our industry continues to make it hard for women to see themselves in these roles, and they continue to lose out on the benefits.
At Manitoba Building Trades, we work hard to make our job sites more inclusive for everyone, including women. Changing a culture is hard, and it can sometimes take a painstakingly long time. Have we seen success from our efforts? Is our industry genuinely becoming more inclusive to women? I would say yes.
Are we anywhere remotely close to where we need to be, ensuring every job site is safe and construction careers are accessible to women without barriers? I would say no.
But I do see a lot of promise. There are many powerful, brave women working on the tools and behind the scenes in our industry. These women pave the way for more inclusive and respectful workplaces for the next generation of women in the skilled construction trades and supporting industries.
I hope that the discussion we are having nationally today is an additional catalyst for change. As I said, change isn’t going to be easy. This issue won’t be solved by attending a diversity seminar or a ‘women in trades’ conference – though these are critical and do make a difference.
The change will take a continued commitment to try and do better at the moment and with each decision, time and time again. So, it’s not going to be easy, but our members are tough, hard-working people! We are up for the challenge, and we will continue to support women in our industry.
As a professional woman, and I’m sure many others can relate, I understand the effects of harassment in the workplace at a deep level – it feels gut-wrenching and dehumanizing. My colleagues face additional burdens in front-line construction work, including access to childcare, missed work for primary parent responsibilities, pre-natal and maternity leave, and basic safe working conditions like PPE that fits properly.
A comment was made about this lawsuit story on CBC radio this morning, that “change has to start at the top”. This issue is finally receiving the attention it deserves. I want Manitoban women working in construction and related fields to know that you have a true ally in our office at Manitoba Building Trades. Our partners have resources and support specifically for women working in or are interested in working in the trades. The groups below can help women navigate workplace issues, provide more information about what it’s like working in the trades, arrange a mentor, or just listen if you need to vent!
I look forward to seeing more successful sisters in our industry year over year.
Stay strong and stay safe,
Manager of Business Development
Manitoba Building Trades