International Women’s Day 2023: A Message from Manitoba Building Trades
March 8, 2023
Dear Union Sisters,
I write to you today on International Women’s Day to recognize your dedication, sacrifices, and hard work in an industry that, frankly, was not built for you, but certainly needs you.
As the new Executive Director of Manitoba Building Trades, I will be the first woman in the role. I’m not usually one to give much thought “international days” or glass ceilings. However, it was too much of a coincidence that my return to office, after 6 months of maternity leave, landed on the week of the woman – as if every week isn’t built off the often unpaid, unseen labour of women in this province.
So, believe me, this morning as I rush out the door with a baby in one hand, my briefcase in another, and plead my toddler to PLEASE get in his car seat so mommy can get to work on time, I will be thinking of you all and the work we need to do to create space for you in the construction trades.
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, resourceful and 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.
A livable income and a career pathway are two areas that continue to be out of reach for many 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 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.
I hope that the discussion we are having nationally today is an additional catalyst for change. These issues won’t be solved by attending a single diversity seminar or a ‘women in trades’ conference – though these are critical and do make a difference in raising awareness. True change comes from continued practices whether that’s on the job, in an office, or on the street.
Women in front-line construction work face barriers daily, including access to childcare, missed work for primary parent responsibilities, pre-natal and maternity leave, basic safe working conditions like PPE that fits properly, and access to clean safe washrooms.
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.
Build TogetHER Manitoba
Office to Advance Women Apprentices
Your Sister in the Brotherhoods,
Manitoba Building Trades