Saturday, February 7, 2009

Study seeks to boost participation of women in construction -Canada

February 6, 2009

Construction Sector Council

Study seeks to boost participation of women in construction


staff writer

The Ottawa-based Construction Sector Council is undertaking a study aimed in part at identifying strategies to boost women’s participation in the construction trades.

While initiatives have been undertaken over the years, primarily focused on raising women’s awareness of non-traditional careers, the council says there has not been an appreciable increase in the percentage of women working on the tools.

Data indicates that women account for only three per cent of those in the construction trades.

“We know that the overall number of women employed in the construction industry has increased,” says Rosemary Sparks, the council’s senior director of planning and development.

“But the percentage of women in the trades hasn’t really changed. We are trying to find out why that is.”

Previously, the council conducted research on participation of immigrants and Aboriginals in construction.

The study on the state of women’s participation is expected to be completed this spring.

The study will look at women as one solution to the skill shortages identified in the council’s Construction Looking Forward scenarios.

Sparks said the objectives are to gain insight into such areas as: whether barriers to women’s participation have changed; what initiatives have proven successful; what constitutes realistic benchmarks; and what needs to be done.

Study components include interviews with industry stakeholders and focus groups with women in construction.

“We are looking for people who have something to contribute to this topic,” Sparks said.

As part of the process, the council is contacting key trade associations for feedback and to arrange interviews with companies. While outreach also is being made to labour organizations, the majority of the interviews will be with employers.

“We will be seeking their views on what kind of support they think is needed to encourage women to enter the industry and perhaps more importantly, stay in the industry,” Sparks said.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada has sent a questionnaire to its members as part of the study. Questions include:

•Has your company introduced any recruitment or retention practices to increase women’s participation in the trades and/or construction management ranks?

•What do you think labour needs to do to recruit and retain women?

•What do you think the industry needs to do to recruit and retain women in management occupations?


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