Making construction more equitable.
True Mechanical has just celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women in Construction (WIC) week. Some people view events such as IWD and WIC week as ways to celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace. While we’re prouder beyond belief of our female employees and their achievements, we’re here to make IWD and WIC week much more than a celebration – we’re here to hire more women in trades and make construction an equitable playing field.
Why are more women needed in the workplace?
The proof is in the data: there aren’t enough women working in construction and trades specifically.
- Only 17% of construction jobs go to women, which is behind logging, fishing, hunting and agriculture. – StatsCan
- In BC, just over 6% of tradespeople working in construction are female. – PROCORE
And it’s no secret that we need more labour in construction. Our skilled workforce is ageing and retiring, and our economy is growing, and women are part of the solution to fill this gap.
Meanwhile, women can bring qualities to the workplace that balance a male-dominated work culture, such as mediation, patience, teamwork, effective communication, natural leadership, attention to detail, work-life balance, and multitasking (to be clear, we’re not saying that men don’t have these qualities, but studies show women bring these qualities to a workplace more readily).
And finally, if girls and young women see more women in construction, they’re more likely to envision themselves there one day.
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What is an equitable playing field?
Equity means addressing any disparities in the benefits available to different genders. Specifically, it means that women in construction should have the same rights and resources as men. And since construction continues to be a male-dominated work culture, it goes without saying that women in construction will have more challenges than men.
What are some challenges to women entering construction?
Both our experience and research tell us some of the barriers to women entering construction include the following:
- Lack of role models.
- Informal male-dominated networks where it’s hard for women to break in.
- Facilitating child care or family duties.
And that’s not all. It’s also difficult for women to STAY in construction because of:
- Off-hand comments and casual sexism – e.g. being called “girls,” which insinuates they’re a child or less mature.
- How they’re perceived on the job – women are assumed to be not as physically strong or decisive, and/or perceived as subordinates.
- Women don’t get promoted as quickly as men, don’t get the big jobs, aren’t paid the same, and don’t have female mentors and role models
Solutions for attracting and retaining women in construction?
Some solutions that we support include:
- Encourage women to enter the construction industry.
- Affordable and accessible childcare.
- Bathroom access.
- Networking and mentoring programs.
- Sensitivity training.
- Appropriate clothing and safety equipment.
We know first-hand that having women in your organization and having a diverse workforce leads to increased productivity and better retention rates. And it’s clear we need to do more to attract, hire, retain and advance the role of women in construction. If you’d like to learn more about what True Mechanical is doing to promote women and diversity in the workforce, please get in touch.
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