May, 24, 2019

Many of you know about The Redwood’s work as an Emergency Shelter, providing safety for 200 women and children each year. What you may not know is that we work hard to help women live free from not only violence, but also from poverty. When women leave an abusive relationship, they usually end up living in poverty – which can lead women right back to their abusive relationship. This is especially common if the woman has children.

Women use the shelter system as a chance to survive. But, in order to move on and thrive, women need a job that offers a living wage and family benefits. This is their ticket out of poverty. Don’t we all deserve that chance?

Trades work is booming in Canada. The average salary for a tradesperson in Ontario is $71,175, with benefits. But, women account for only 4.5% of the trades industryin Canada, despite the fact that they make up 48% of the entire labour force.

So, what is really going on?  What obstacles are preventing women from attaining a lucrative and rewarding career in trades?

The Redwood recently spoke with Nancy Rodriguez, an Industrial Engineer and Project Manager. She originally moved to Canada from Mexico to learn English, but was able to use her engineering experience to create a pathway for herself on the planning committee of the “Women in Trades, The Time is Now!” conference at George Brown College.

Nancy explains that few women aspire to work in the trades industry because the post-secondary programs have few marketing tactics that encourage women to apply. She explains that the industry is traditionally dominated by men, with women often sexually harassed out of it.

This year’s “Women in Trades, The Time is Now!” conference took place in March at the George Brown Casa Loma Campus. The Redwood brought a group of women to attend and they were introduced to career opportunities in the trades industry. They learned why the industry is a viable option for women and trans, non-binary, and 2-spirit peoples.

Recently, women residing at The Redwood completed the five-week Women Transitioning to Trades and Employment program with George Brown College.The program workshops allowed these women to explore career pathways, particularly as an electrician, plumber, carpenter, and Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning (HVAC) worker.

One of the women loved the workshops so much that she is already working on her application to enroll in an HVAC program with a certified trades school.

We can’t wait to hear more about her journey in the new HVAC program, and how she will break barriers in the industry!

This blog post was written by Akilah Downey, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator at The Redwood.