Project results highlight challenges faced by women in the Canadian construction industry

The Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC) has completed Phase 1 of the Level Best Women’s Advancement Project, and while women in the industry are optimistic, gender inclusivity continues to be a work in progress. Phase 2 of the Level Best Project is now underway and will focus on developing specific and targeted recommendations for industry stakeholders to increase entry, retention and promotion of women into leadership roles within the industry.

With input from Employer Partners (who, as of November 2015 report that they employ a total workforce of approximately 10,000 workers) and female participants during the research phase, the Level Best team has delivered a comprehensive needs assessment of industry women targeting Ontario, Alberta, and Newfoundland/Labrador. Key challenges and obstacles have been identified, effectively highlighting the various issues faced by women in the industry. Some of the most commonly reported challenges include lack of appropriate personal protective equipment, inadequate washroom facilities, difficulty sourcing mentors, and substantive issues sustaining a positive work environment with male colleagues. That said, an overwhelming proportion of the female participants (94.44 per cent) believe they have the potential to have a successful career in construction and 85.19 per cent would recommend working in construction to other women. In addition, 86.67 per cent of Employer Partners would be prepared to pay for tools to increase hiring, retention and advancement of women at their organization, if the cost was reasonable.

The results of this assessment demonstrate that, while there is still significant work to be done to improve inclusivity and promotion of women in the industry, women are optimistic about career advancement, and their employers are looking for ways to support them accordingly. In this next Phase, through collaboration with industry stakeholders, the Level Best team will develop specific, measurable and realistic actions. CAWIC invites further support from industry stakeholders, a construction employer or a female working in construction during this critical Phase. The input of industry insiders is key to generating practical, tangible solutions.

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