Construction woman | The change in culture is noticeable, but challenges remain

(Montreal) The cultural change regarding the presence of women in the construction industry is indeed visible, but their progress remains slow and challenges remain, concludes the Commission de la construction du Québec.

Posted on August 31st

Lia Levesque
The Canadian Press

The CCQ recently produced a report on the first two phases of its Equal Access Program for women, looking at the years 2015 to 2021.

General statistical data was released last spring: the industry now has 6,234 working women, or 3.27% of the industry’s workforce.

Except that this “at least 3% of women” target is reached by 2021… while the industry has set its own goal of reaching it by 2018.

The progress of women in this traditionally male industry is real, but slow, although the whole industry is moving to improve the situation: unions, companies, training centers, associations and other actors.

“A mobilization of PAEF (access to equality program) stakeholders has been noticed, the observation of the low representation of women has been recognized and actions have been put in place, in training and in employment, to support the journey of women and make a favorable environment, which shows the beginning of a change in the culture of the industry”, concluded the Commission de la construction in its report.

Other challenges

Among the challenges that still need to be solved: women are concentrated in certain trades or jobs. “Few targets through trade and employment have been met,” the CCQ wrote.

For example, they exceeded their target for the trades of painter (22.9%, target of 15%), resilient flooring installer (5.2%, target of 3%) and carpenter-joiner (2.15%, target of 2%).

There are 10 trades and three occupations where they are close to their target, then 12 trades and three occupations where they are far from reaching their target, including surveyor, diver, scrap metal worker and mechanical shovel operator.

Another challenge: the dropout rate of women in the industry is higher than that of men. So, after one year, 21% of women left and 14% of men. And after five years, 53% of women left and 32% of men.

Similarly, the average annual working hours completed by them is lower than that of men. The average annual hours of women (766) remains lower than that of men (1039) in 2021.

On the business side too, there is a long way to go. The CCQ says that although 15% of construction companies will hire at least one woman by 2021, 66% will hire just one.

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