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Female Construction Workers Have a New Best Friend in Canada

Currently, only four percent of the Canadian construction force is female. Journeyman, a national program that helps mentor, support and promote women working in construction, hopes to change that.

Drumming up female interest in a male-dominated industry is only a small part of the program's mission. Journeyman also seeks to end stereotypes and break down barriers for women in the field with the ultimate goal of judging everyone equally based on the quality of their work.  

Journeyman, which recently launched a Facebook page in order to bring workers together around this concept has released a video featuring participants in the Journeyman.

Community and political engagement is one way Journeyman hopes to broaden its reach, with a wide range of activities such as local charity events and lobbying the Canadian parliament.

In launching the Iron Worker Women page on Ironworkers.org, Journeyman founder Jamie McMillan explained the idea of a support structure for women in the trades.  

Seeing as we are still low in numbers, social media and other online networking has brought women from all over the world together to support, mentor and talk about our ventures in the trades with one another. Conferences are held every year for women of all trades to meet and discuss the pros and cons of being in the trades, and we work together to help encourage one another as we create strong bonds and friendships. Journeyman is also a national program through Canada’s Building Trades Unions that will bring great exposure and awareness to women in trades and also be a great tool in promoting, supporting and mentoring women in the skilled construction trades.

McMillan has a bold vision for the future:

In the future more women will become skilled trades workers. There is a shortage of workers as the Baby Boomers retire. As women become more independent and seek equal opportunity for great wages, benefits, pensions—to name a few—our numbers will increase. The more we get into schools, programs, and educate young women through mentorship, the more they will see the many incredible career paths they can pursue in the skilled trades. There are 14 skilled trades unions in Canada and over 60 apprenticeships within them, journeyman wages that range from $35 to $45 per hour, and a range of work from coast to coast. It sells itself.

Journeyman also provides resources, including contact information and mentors, for women considering construction careers, and shareable materials with which to promote the program and cause.  

To date, Journeyman has gained the support of the 14 affiliated international unions of the Canadian Building Trades.  With a generation of workers on the brink of retirement, the time is now to ensure that the next lot of tradesmen aren’t necessarily men at all.

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