A new survey by the Ontario Building and Construction Tradeswomen (OBCT) committee aims to better understand how women working in the building and construction industry are viewed by those in leadership roles.

“We want to get a feel for what the current attitudes and beliefs are surrounding tradeswomen and to make sure that if there are supports that they (leaders) need that they don’t have in order to integrate women into the workforce, we can address and identify those,” explained Kayla Bailey, a journeyperson steamfitter, gasfitter, welder and a member of UA Local 46 Toronto.

The survey, which has over 30 questions and takes about 15 minutes to complete, is geared to contractors, employers, union officers, organizers, general foremen, hiring managers and any other worker that is in a supervisory or leadership role.

With all the responses going through a research company, participation and all the answers will be kept anonymous and confidential.

The survey will culminate with a report and recommendations which will be reviewed by the OBCT.  The feedback is intended to help the OBCT better advocate for meaningful changes within the building trades to support and retain tradeswomen.

“When we’re talking about getting women into the trades recruitment is really important, but it’s really important that when we are doing these recruiting efforts that we are also paying attention to retention,” said Bailey, adding some women don’t stay past their first year of apprenticeship.

“We’re trying to understand how we can support contractors and other people in leadership positions within the industry. We’re very open to the possibility that for some people, some of these attitudes and beliefs can definitely be changed with education and even just more women entering the industry.”

In a previous survey conducted late last year, the OBCT gathered feedback from tradeswomen. Now it’s time to get the other side, said Bailey.

“We do want to make sure that we are coming at it from all angles,” she noted.

“We’re trying to figure out how we can support and how we can help tradeswomen because so far it’s been helping tradeswomen overcome barriers but ultimately the goal needs to be to remove those barriers, so that is what we are hoping to do with this survey.”

A lot of the data on tradeswomen is from the U.S. and is dated, Bailey pointed out. The team is looking forward to getting a better picture of the situation in Ontario. They are hoping to get a range of responses from men and women.

“A few of the women in our committee either do own their own contracting companies or are foreman or are in leadership positions, so we are going to get to see a range of responses between supervision that is men and women on this,” she said.

The survey has been developed as multiple choice, but there is also a place to include comments at the end. Bailey and other tradeswomen were involved with its development and drew from consultations and their own experiences.

“The questions were definitely developed based on feedback from the committee,” Bailey said.

“We are trying to get a really realistic feel for attitudes and beliefs. It was a really interesting exercise as a tradeswoman, thinking back to a lot of things that I’ve heard, other women thinking back to things that they’ve heard. It’s kind of a silver lining looking back to some of those experiences that weren’t really good but using them to help develop this survey.”

The survey closes the second week of February. It can be found at https://logit.qfimr.com/OBCTe?SRC=2

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