Women in Trades
In the past, asking a girl what she wanted to do when she grew up probably would have resulted in a blank stare. Most girls got married and raised families. Even if they worked, they had only a few choices for the kinds of work they could do, and they were discouraged from getting into other types of work. If they chose another kind of work, they would probably face all kinds of barriers and problems. Many things have changed over the years and women now find it much easier to get into professions like law and medicine. They can work as editors, scientists, and computer analysts. Women are also entering traditionally male-dominated trades and are becoming electricians, plumbers, construction workers, and more.
The history of women in the trades really began during the Second World War (1939-1945), when many of the men from North America and Europe were away fighting in the war. Their jobs as welders, ship-builders and painters still needed to be done, and women took over and learned to work in job fields that included electricians, insulators, and pipe-fitters. When men returned after the war, many women went back to their regular work while men took over the trades again. However, women had discovered that they could do much more than their traditional work. Slowly, they began to get back into the trades that they had left at the end of the war.
Getting women back into the trades after so long has not been easy. Teachers and parents have had to encourage girls to consider the trades instead of getting into more traditional fields like teaching or nursing. Training schools have had to make their programs appealing to women so that they would consider trades as possible careers. Even the government has become involved by funding support programs for women entering the trades or lending students the money they need to pay their tuition fees. Other groups have had to help, as well.
One way that organizations can help is by guiding women into the right training program. Canada has over two hundred different trades, and making a decision about which trade is best can be difficult. The next stage is finding a good training program. Training is important for anyone who wants to be a skilled tradesperson rather than a labourer. Even if no job is available for people after they graduate, their skills are always valuable.
Most training programs in the trades involve a combination of classroom work and practical training, often ending with a work-placement segment. This is when students get to work at an actual job but still learn at the same time. A typical program might include about seven or eight months of instruction, followed by four or five months of work on the job to gain experience. Sometimes, a full-time job can be the result of the work placement.
Women are entering the trades in greater numbers than they have in years. If you’re a girl, maybe you should consider being one of these trendsetters!