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Sisters doing it for themselves
Published: September 04, 2007 12:37 a.m.
Last modified: March 07, 2008 10:46 a.m.
Firm promotes women entering construction
Wanted: A few good women. After more than a quarter century on Greater Toronto Area construction sites, Elida Huignard realized what was missing was a woman’s touch. So, along with fellow architect Martina Ernst, they’ve launched Wo-Built Inc., a firm dedicated to increasing the number of females in the building trades.
With women now making up just an estimated 2 per cent of workers in the field, they know there’s much work to be done. But since they established the company late last year, they’ve been able to sub-contract some of their home renovation work to females to do painting, tiling, plastering and cabinetry.
By early next year, they hope to have established a training and mentorship scheme that would see women working on job sites get exposure to different trades, hopefully through other women with experience. They’re also looking to establish pre-apprenticeship programs with college and trade groups. “There’s a big opportunity in construction trades for women that is not being used right now,” said Huignard. Among the barriers, she said, is the belief that it’s male-only work and too physical for females.
That’s why finishing work has such great potential, Ernst said. “It’s the work you see, where a woman’s attention to detail and patience are really an asset,” she said.
Rolf Priesnitz, chair of apprenticeship programs at George Brown College, said training for groups under-represented in the skilled trades — such as women, aboriginals, and those who are the first generation in their family to attend post-secondary school — will be increasingly important if Ontario is to combat its looming shortage.
torstar news service