Winnipeg

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Women in trades

When Benny Klassen started working as an apprentice mechanic at a car dealership in Steinbach, Man., she was the only woman on staff.

Klassen, 20, noticed she did some of her work differently than her male colleagues, like using machines to do some of the heavy lifting. But she also learned her attention to detail made her stand out, and her small hands allowed her to fix things some of the men couldn’t.

“Just because you can’t do it the way that they’re doing it, find a way you can,” said Klassen. “Because there are lots of ways.”

An early 2018 Manitoba government report on the status of women in the province found a low number of women working in the trades.

The report also found that in 2016, Indigenous women made up less than six per cent of the 15,615 Canadian women with skilled trades education.
But women like Alaina Richard are exploring the trades through opportunities like the Indigenous carpentry program at the Prairie Arctic Trades Training Centre.

Richard, 19, is the only woman in her class. She was inspired to pursue carpentry because of her interest in home renovation shows growing up, and said she likes that her program incorporates traditional Indigenous knowledge into her education.

Richard said her younger sister has also taken an interest in carpentry since she started the program.

“She’s asking me about it,” said Richard. “I’m like, go for it. You can do it. You can do whatever you want.”

Videos

Story: Funding for women in trades
How is money from the provincial government impacting women going into the trades in Manitoba?
Story: Women in trades at Red River College
The number of women going into the trades is on a steady increase. At one school, 40 per cent more women have enrolled in apprenticeship programs since 2010.
Rant: Safety equipment for women in trades
A 2017 study found that women are less likely than men to have properly fitting safety gear. How does this impact women working in dangerous trades jobs?
Report: Gender wage gap in the trades
Women account for 5.3 per cent of all tradespeople in Canada. On average, women in trades earn $7.24 less per hour compared to their male counterparts. Visible minority women are more likely to enter into male-dominated fields.
Interview: Young mothers in trades
Yvanne Dandan, after school program manager at Career Trek, talks about barriers women and young mothers face when entering trades.
Story: What's it like for a young woman in a male-dominated workplace?
Benny Klassen is a 20-year-old apprentice mechanic in Steinbach, Man.