More female tradespeople are needed: Carpenter
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Wawmeesh George Hamilton/for Metro Vancouver
Women are an underutilized force that could be the answer to B.C.’s trades labour shortage, says a Simon Fraser University instructor.
“People assume trades are a man’s work and that’s not true,” said Kate Braid, SFU women’s studies instructor and also a carpenter. “Lots of women are looking for work that is physical and outdoors.”
While women made inroads into the white-collar workforce, they haven’t in trades, said Braid.
An SFU study entitled Women In Trades In B.C. And The Yukon estimates the number hasn’t budged much in 36 years.
In 1971, 510 B.C. women worked in trades. In 2006, that number grew to only 2,200.
Hiring tradeswomen isn’t novel, said Braid. Women were hired as welders, pipe fitters and steel workers during the Second World War.
“1,400 women worked at the Burrard dry docks as shipbuilders,” she said.
Women were conscientious hard workers then and they still are, said Braid.
Women don’t feel comfortable on male dominated job sites and find men slow to accept them. Some have found their own niche though.
Fixin’ Vixens is a female-owned handy company in Vancouver. It takes on jobs larger companies consider too small, said owner Yolanda Ricketts.
Lead handy-gal Krystal Thompson juggles work and motherhood, but she loves her job and wouldn’t do anything else, she said.
She started construction after taking a renovation course. She worked for two years before meeting and working with Ricketts.
The work is tough, but women have the natural attributes to tackle it and it’s not brawn.
“Every job requires us to think, plan and problem solve,” said the mother of two.