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Women in Trades

Advice from Leading Women in the Trades

Women in Trades panel header
Women in Trades panel header

While women and girls in trades are finding more support and fellowship than ever before, there’s still much to be done toward achieving gender parity. Leading women in trades share their experiences and career advice.

Maryam Monsef, Government of Canada

The Honourable Maryam Monsef

Minister for Women & Gender Equality & Rural Economic Development, Government of Canada

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are hitting women hardest, with jobs lost, hours cut back, and increased care responsibilities at home. A full recovery from the pandemic won’t be possible unless we ensure that women are at the centre. Helping more women enter, succeed in, and stay in skilled trades is an important part of this work, which is why our government has provided over $11 million to support projects that advance women’s participation in non-traditional professions.

Over the last 40 years, greater participation of women in the workforce has accounted for about one third of Canada’s economic growth and their equal participation could add another $150 billion to Canada’s economy in less than a decade. Our government is committed to closing the gender wage gap and achieving gender equality so that women have an equal and fair opportunity for success in any field they choose, because we know that this will have a direct impact on addressing immediate labour shortages and strengthening our economy for the benefit of all Canadians. Much remains to be done, and we’ll continue to work with labour leaders, trade organizations, and women in all their diversity to continue to increase women’s participation in well-paying trades jobs.

Jennifer Green

Jennifer Green

Director of Competitions & Young Women’s Initiatives, Skills Ontario & Apprenticeship Youth Advisor, Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training & Skills Development

I was almost always the first and only woman in the workplace. Some of my counterparts had never worked with a female tradesperson before. My motto was, “I’ll meet you halfway, understanding this may be difficult or non-traditional for you, if you’ll meet me halfway. I’m here to stay.” There’s no right way for a tradesperson to look. It’s key that young women explore and learn with this in mind.

Elizabeth Moses, Machinist

Elizabeth Moses


The skilled trades can be difficult to navigate, but always remember that you’re not alone. You never know who you’ll become in the future. Today, I’m amazed by the amount of support that’s present in my life. Keep in mind that not everyone is the same and you don’t have to constantly compare your worth to others. You’re the one who knows your personal strengths and talents.

Jamie McMillan

Jamie McMillan

Ironworker, Apprentice Boilermaker & Founder, KickAss Careers

Careers aren’t based on gender — they’re based on your attitude, skills, and abilities. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t follow your dreams and passion. You can be anything you want to be as long as you have
the right attitude.

Rhonda Barnet, AVIT Manufacturing

Rhonda Barnet

President & COO, AVIT Manufacturing & Past Chair, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

I’ve spent the past 30 years of my career working in the industry and helping develop new ideas and products to improve people’s lives. It’s been an honour to carry the torch to encourage more women to enter manufacturing careers. I hope you open your eyes to a future focused on innovation, technology, and creativity — and join manufacturing to be a maker of better products. The sector is vibrant and growing, and we need you.

Stephanie Thompson, General Motors of Canada

Stephanie Thompson

Engineering Team Leader, General Motors of Canada & CEO, STEM by Steph

A few years ago, I applied to be a CSA astronaut, the coolest STEM job in the world. There are 37 million Canadians — 7,200 people opened the application, and only 3,200 people finished it. My advice to anyone considering STEM is: apply! Be brave. Put yourself in the game. Apply to any program that seems interesting to you. Try. You never know if they’re looking for someone just like you. Maybe you’ll be the next superhero scientist or engineer.

Keeley Prockiw, Tacten Industrial

Keeley Prockiw

Rope Access Supervisor & Red Seal Welder, Structure Group, Tacten Industrial

It’s never too late to rewrite your story. Never be satisfied with set­tling for less than happiness. If you find you’re at a place in your life wanting a change then I say, go and change it. Write your story how you want to see it and don’t let anyone stand in your way. We, as women, deserve the story we write ourselves.

Raelynn Hawco, Voltage Power

Raelynn Hawco

Journeyman Powerline Technician, Voltage Power

Aspire to be the positive change you want to see in the world. With women being underrepresented in the skilled trades, I try to inspire others by being a positive role model and by promoting a powerline career for women. I encourage a positive mindset and being the reflection of change.

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