According to Status of Women Canada, in 2012, women represented only 4% of those in construction trades and 20% of those in occupations unique to primary industry, such as forestry, mining, oil and gas.


The Catalyst Centre for Knowledge defines any industry with less than 25% female representation as non-traditional. In Canada, this includes the trades and such fields as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The Government of Canada has emphasized that STEM fields are increasing at twice the rate of other jobs in Canada but, in 2009, Statistics Canada reported 22.3% female representation in these professions.

The BC economy is poised to experience significant growth in emerging sectors including agrifoods, forestry, mining, natural gas, technology and transportation. Job opportunities in skilled trades are booming in BC but women are participating in apprenticeship programs at a much lower rate than men. In 2010, only 13% of registrants in apprenticeship programs in Canada were women.

Women face a range of firm-level and societal barriers in pursuing careers in non-traditional and emerging sectors. Status of Women in Canada reports a range of complex barriers across the career development trajectory, including curriculum development in K-12, university and college recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of women in the sector. The report also noted that women in these occupations report challenges with work-life balance, inflexible schedules, few role models, negative workplace atmosphere, harassment, and few opportunities for advancement.

A panel of 15 experts from across Canada identified a number of best practices in attraction and training; recruiting; retention; and advancement. Some key findings included:

  • Focusing on early socialization and education
  • Embedding appropriate supports through training and transition phases
  • Diversity training for hiring committees
  • Investing greater resources into promoting inclusive work climates, flexible schedule options, and work-life balance
  • Providing leadership development, training and access to mentoring for women who show potential for advancement.

Be part of theĀ  conversation about how to grow women in trades and emerging technologies in YOUR community.