The construction sector is one of the largest employers in Canada, employing roughly 1.4 million Canadians. One could say that the construction industry is male-dominated, as only 12% of the workforce is female. Although the numbers are slowly climbing, they show that there is still a significant lack of women within the industry. Furthermore, 75% of those women work off-site.
To mark International Women’s Day, we decided to see how these statistics impact the women currently working in construction. Do women in construction face barriers as a result of being in the minority? If so, how do they go about breaking through these barriers?
We reached out to women in the industry, and asked them to answer one question:
As a woman, what challenges do you face in a male-dominated industry, and how have you overcome them?
Here’s what they had to say:
“Yes, I work in a predominantly male environment while being in charge of projects for an excavation company. However, even though I am a girl, I do not really experience men in my company trying to ‘put a stick in my wheels’. Of course, if you work in this industry, you must have a little character, but the important thing is to be respectful.”
– Audrey St-Pierre, Estimator / Project Manager – Excavation ESM
“As a woman in a non-traditional field, making your place is possible, especially when you have the same skills. Attitude towards colleagues and customers is paramount. That said, as a woman I did not really have a problem. I love my job and the people I work with. You have to set your place and your reputation – like each of us who works with the public does.”
– Claudine Beaulieu – Centre de location Dickner
“I did not really have a challenge that I had to overcome. Of course, when I arrived in a construction environment where I did not know anything, I had to learn all the machines and I had the training to help me. I consider myself lucky, because people help me and I always have good relationships with the guys. I love what I do and I consider myself ‘one of the boys ‘”
– Tanya Godreau, Representative for rental – Battlefield Equipment Rental
“I didn’t have a big issue being a woman in construction. The biggest challenge was first starting work. Finding the courage to go on a construction site. Men are really receptive. You just have to introduce yourself and after that it’s very easy. Women have a place in a ‘man’s world’. You just have to take your place.”
– Sarah Bourgie Sabourin, Senior Sales Representative – Modu-Loc Fence Rentals
It is enlightening to hear that some women in the industry haven’t encountered any barriers strictly as a result of being female. These responses are encouraging, and may be indicative of a mindset that is slowly changing for the better. Perhaps there are not as many challenges for a woman in the construction industry as some might assume. While some women may feel apprehensive about entering a male-dominated industry, according to those who are actively working in construction, there is nothing to fear.
So what’s the lesson? While the construction sector may still have work to do in better supporting and advancing women, industry stakeholders seem to be increasingly receptive to the idea of a balanced workforce – so don’t let fear hold you back from working in such a large, diverse and innovative industry!
We’re here to answer any questions you may have.