Less than 4% of people employed in the trades are women

ONLINE STORY by Brandie Weikle · CBC News · Posted: Jul 23, 2019 4:00 AM ET

Although more women are finding lucrative and satisfying work in male-dominated skilled trades, progress is too slow to meet the demand for skilled workers, in some cases because the work environments are unwelcoming, experts say.

According to data from Statistics Canada’s most recent Labour Force Survey, women made only marginal gains in the trades between 2008 and 2018. Of the 934,000 people working in industrial, electrical and construction trades in 2008, 34,600 — or 3.7 per cent — were women.

By 2018, 38,600 fewer people were working in the trades overall, but women’s sliver of the shrinking pie grew by about 200 women to 34,800. That’s just under 3.9 per cent.

Among those coming up through the ranks as trainees, about one in 10 Canadian apprentices are women, and most of them are concentrated in female-dominated programs such as hairstylist, esthetician and — in provinces where it’s considered a trade — early childhood education.

Representation in the male-dominated trades, defined as those where men account for 75 per cent or more of apprentices, is even lower. Just a small fraction of those one in 10 apprentices who are women choose male-dominated programs, which lead to more lucrative work.