Ground Water Canada

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Editorial: Women in the trades

Goals for 2020 should include encouraging women to consider the trades


January 16, 2020
By Colleen Cross


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Women are underrepresented in the skilled trades, and we need to do more to encourage them to enter the trades in general and the ground water industry in particular.

Women are making some strides in entering the trades as compared to the slowing growth of the trades overall. According to data from Statistics Canada’s most recent Labour Force Survey, of the 934,000 people working in industrial, electrical and construction trades in 2008, 34,600 (3.7 per cent) were women. By 2018, 38,600 fewer people were working in the trades overall, but the number of women grew by about 200 to 34,800, just under 3.9 per cent.

But Canadian employers still have much work to do to debunk stereotypes of women as more likely to excel in soft skills such as caregiving and communication than in math and science, as you’ll read in our feature story, “Culture of change.”

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We as an industry should encourage women to consider a career in the trades.

Of course, it’s a long road to change attitudes. First, we need to raise general awareness about ground water by linking the work you all do to the bigger picture of drinking water in Canada. That starts with projecting a positive attitude about yourselves as ground water professionals.

Then, we need to ensure our workplaces are welcoming and supportive. There are many programs set up to help businesses be more inclusive, among them the B.C. Industry Training Authority’s Women in Trades Training and Quebec’s Les Elles de la Construction.

Nationally, a Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) task force is developing a National Strategy for Women in Trades that will set targets to increase participation and retention of women in skilled trades careers and present them at the National Apprenticeship Conference in Calgary in May.

Out in the field, several drilling companies already employ women with great success, among them Aardvark Drilling Inc. in Ontario, which counts women as 10 per cent of its workforce. Darren Juneau, chief executive officer, pinpoints a change in attitude he’s witnessed: “We have someone representing this demographic who’s providing quality work and that raises awareness. They realize they need to be more open to it and it’s not just the boys’ club anymore.”

Let’s all make a New Year’s resolution to take a step toward making our worksites places where all employees will feel welcome and proud to put their skills to work.

2020 AND BEYOND!
We at Ground Water Canada are excited and proud to bring you the Ontario Ground Water Association’s well-respected publication, The Source, within these pages. The OGWA for more than 65 years has provided guidance to members, government representatives and the public on the development, protection and management of ground water. We all know ground water has no borders. Check out The Source, to understand your geographic differences and common interests.

Two of our goals for 2020 are to elevate the industry during Ground Water Awareness Week in March – and beyond – and to carry out a national survey. Please participate in this important poll to help create a clear picture of this industry’s priorities and challenges. With the incorporation of the unifying Canadian National Ground Water Association (see page 4 of this Winter 2020 issue!), gathering and sharing this information is more important than ever.