For the Record – How should women be encouraged to enter the trades?

Ali Pitargue – May 14, 2019

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The BC Construction Association (BCCA) released a report stating that women account for 4.7% of the skilled workforce. The shortage of women are due to a number of factors, which all could pertain to the traditionally male-dominated culture of the industry.

According to Kendall Ansell, founder of Belle Construction, this is not necessarily due to a lack of interest on women’s parts.

“I don’t think it’s a lack of women wanting to do these jobs. Women are having to look after families or doing other roles. But also, the dropout rate in the internship portion of the training unfortunately ends with a lot of harassment.” – Kendall Ansell

In response to this, the BCCA launched the Builders Code Initiative—a program that ensures that  construction employers adopt appropriate HR policies that treat women in the industry fairly and equally.

“This is a ‘fix the system, not the women’ project to help drive a culture shift BC’s construction industry that will contribute to improved retention of women in trades, and in the long term decrease the number of unfilled tradesperson jobs in BC’s construction sector.” – BC Construction Assocation on Builders Code

For Ansell, a female-driven culture could alleviate plenty of women’s unease. Her newly-found company, Belle Construction, connects prospective tradeswomen with employment, mentorships, and internships across the country. Belle Construction specializes in small projects that cost under $200,000.

Ansell says that she noticed a difference not only in the comfort of female workers, but also in female clientele. She found that female clients can be more comfortable with a woman doing renovations in her home, particularly in cases where women are more emboldened to ask questions to the workers.

“We’re able to now explain to women the inner workings of her home and how things operate and the building science behind it. That’s because we feel that the women’s presence on site that people are comfortable asking us those questions.”

When it comes to what needs to be done as a whole, Ansell says it starts with informing women at a younger age. She advises that trades workshops in the high school curriculum are an ideal starting point.

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Listen to the full interview with Kendall Ansell here: