Back left to right: Sarah Martin, Lawren Densmore, Shynade Henry, Joanne Ward, Helen Bell, Karen Papatheodorou.
Front left to right: Kailee MacIsaac, Kristy Godfrey, Martine Sevigny-Lamont, Diana Simpson, Kate Martin
While the skilled trades were once largely a male-dominated industry, recent numbers are showing an alternative trend. With more women stepping in and enjoying the advantages that a career in the trades provides, the construction industry is also benefitting from the strength of a diversified workforce.
Kristy Godfrey is an IBEW Local 353 member currently working as a foreman for Guild Electric on the Pickering Casino Resort development. This project has 11 skilled tradeswomen working on-site.
“With approximately 350 workers on the site, about 3% are women, which is higher than I’ve ever seen on a job site,” says Godfrey, who oversees the crew doing the electrical work in the parking garages.
Having been in the electrical trade for 20 years, Godfrey has witnessed first-hand the increasing number of women entering the trades and the benefits brought to the table by harnessing women’s unique strengths. “Women are excellent multitaskers,” she says. “We also tend to be very organized and task-driven. These skills are very helpful in the skilled trades.”
Joanne Ward, Shop Steward and Safety Rep for the Pickering Casino Resort project, adds, “I think that women approach a puzzle differently than men and offer another perspective when faced with tasks.”
What many young women entering the workforce may not realize is that the skilled trades have much more to offer than meets the eye. This industry is unmatched when it comes to dynamic career opportunities and job fulfillment.
“Seeing how a building has been built from the ground up is amazing and having a hand in that is really amazing,” says Ward.
Contrary to popular belief, the skilled trades are about much more than muscle and brawn. “Working in the trades is not all physical labour,” says Ward. “There are unparalleled choices for advancement and specialization. There are opportunities to explore other facets as well, such as estimating, project management, health and safety inspector, and more. The list is huge!”
IBEW Local 353 offers all members continued education through its four state-of-the-art training centres, allowing members to make the most of their electrical careers. The electrical industry is ever-changing and the IBEW is committed to the continual development of programs that will keep its members on the leading edge of tomorrow’s technology.
“The options to continue learning and training in the trades never stop,” says Godfrey. “You could work in many trades for 100 years and still only learn a fraction of what there is to know.”
The options to continue learning and training in the trades never stop.Kristy Godfrey, IBEW Local 353 member
Not only do unionized skilled trades offer equal advancement opportunities, all workers within the IBEW are provided equal access to a living wage. “There’s no wage discrimination within the union wage package,” says Godfrey. “We’re paid the same based on our level of achievement, which isn’t the case in many jobs.”
While we continue to see an increasing number of women entering the skilled trades, Godfrey points out that it’s important to acknowledge the progression of the industry: how far it’s come and how far it still needs to go.
“We should all be thankful for the trailblazing women in skilled trades who have helped us get to this point and remember that the choices we make reflect on all women in the trades,” she says.
IBEW Local 353 is proud to be a diverse and progressive union. Actively supporting all members and fighting for equality in the industry is vital because a strong union is one where all are represented.