Women Build Nations

BCCA-IN Header

Beyoncé said it with her anthem, "Run the World (Girls)". In Chicago on October 14-15, nearly 1700 tradeswomen from across North America came together with their own anthem, "Women Build Nations".

Tradeswomen were welcomed from the United States and Canada as well as South America, Ireland, and India. In Canada, women represent 4.5% of the skilled workforce. We know women build nations. We know more women should be building Canada.

There were four women representatives from the British Columbia Construction Association in attendance to lend their voices and listen to the experiences of their fellow tradeswomen. These representatives were: Kathy Wallis (Regional Manager, STEP), Faith Dempster (Regional Manager, STEP), Sharon Miller (REPS, STEP), and Isabel McLean (REPS, STEP). The following is a summary of their notes from three workshops attended during the two-day conference.

Listen. Believe them. Work for change.

ANTI-OPPRESSION 101: Building Solidarity by Breaking Down Bigotry
(Notes from the workshop)

Tradespeople were asked to share and explore their own experiences as a part of the margin who feel under-represented in the mainstream. The audience was predominately women with a few men. We did not receive specific definitions for the terms “margin” or “mainstream”, yet it became clear that everyone was well-versed in both terms. We were invited to break off into smaller groups and encouraged to share our experiences. Some women started by describing what’s like to be the only woman on a jobsite. Some women described their fear of male retribution for “taking a man’s job”. These small groups provided a safe, supportive environment to talk openly. One woman chose to share her story about her first day on the job as a carpentry apprentice. At the end of her shift, her journeyman failed to inform her that the team had clocked out. Instead, he disappeared into a trailer with the other journeymen. She could hear them talking and laughing, but she was not invited to join nor did she feel comfortable leaving as she was still learning the ropes. She described the experience as “very uncomfortable”. She is now a Red Seal carpenter.

There were three main questions each of us answered in our groups:

1. What was it like to be in the margin?

The unified group answer: “It feels familiar”. Those in the margin of a group do not have to be reminded they are in the margin of a group. It is the everyday experience. Several women in the group shared that they have felt silenced, intimidated, alone, misunderstood, terrified, and degraded. Women in one group talked about being in an unwanted spotlight and being perceived as unqualified. Women discussed turning the backlash into determination. One woman shared that she saw the doubt of her co-workers as a welcomed challenge to prove them wrong.

2. What did the mainstream seem like to the margin?

There came a wave of words used to describe the mainstream: “Confident and comfortable, but lacking integrity”, “self-righteous”, “ignorant”, “whiny”, “disrespectful”, “indifferent”, “unempathic”, “above the law”, “smugly amused”, and “unapologetic”. Women described the mainstream as having a “wolf pack mentality”, “as conformists free from consequences”. They stated that those in the mainstream feel they are “the world”.

3. What would you like to say as a marginalized person to the mainstream?

“See me.”
“You’re next – they’ll get you, too.”
“Don’t tell me to smile.”
“Believe me, believe in me. I have a contribution to make.”
“You’re lucky I’m not a man.”
“Look me in the eye and tell me what the problem is.”
“It’s 2017! You’re outdated!”
“You can’t say you are one way but act another way.”
“What are you afraid of?” “Hi my name is _______, get to know me.”
“You don’t understand yourself, so you reject me.”
“I am qualified to do this job. No one gave me anything.”
“I’m not here for you to take care of me.”
“You’re not as powerful as you think.”

(Notes from the workshop)

This was an engaging workshop. We learned how to escape from several different holds. We learned tactics to use when a quick escape is necessary. We agreed that this kind of training is something all women should learn.

It was empowering, yet we could not ignore the underlying question: Would a trades conference with men host a self defense class? No. Self defense implies that it’s the woman’s responsibility to protect herself. That what women fear is just “part of being a woman”. There is a greater cultural issue. This class would have been more appropriately called Tradeswomen’s Self-Empowerment.

Two of the representatives from BCCA broke wooden boards with their bare hands. The reactions to these physical achievements were inspiring. There was an adrenaline rush!

(Notes from the workshop)

This workshop focused on ways to engage youth and effectively promote careers in construction. 

As the conference came to a close, we took the time to reflect on our learnings.

For several of the women from the United States, their path to the trades came from necessity. They had families to support and finding unionized construction work was a great job with benefits that didn’t always require college education. This can be applied to many women across the world who need to balance motherhood and find work with a good income. This applies to women who are not mothers and need to support family members. This applies to all women who are looking for a career and a good paycheque. This applies to all women who need to support themselves.

Run the world, girls. Build nations, women. We’re listening. You’re heard. Let’s work.

Download PDF version here.


Electricians = 287
Carpenters = 220
Ironworkers = 216
Sheet Metal Workers =121
Labourers = 113 UA = 111
Painters = 71
Elevator Constructors = 56
Insulators = 51
Boilermakers = 36
Operating Engineers = 29
Roofers = 27
Teamsters = 5 Operative
Plasters & Cement Masons = 18
Other = 325

March 19, 2019

Builders Code Expansion: First Advisor Now Available to Vancouver Island Construction Employers

Industry Seeks to Improve Retention of Skilled Tradeswomen by Addressing Worksite Behaviour. Construction employers who want to address diversity or harassment issues on their worksites but lack the human resources personnel or expertise to do so will now have access to confidential advisors with experience in HR management, mediation and conflict resolution as part of the Builders Code recently launched by the BC Construction Association and project partners.
Read More
March 08, 2019

BC Construction Industry Introduces Worksite Conduct Standards to Improve Worker Retention

The Province of B.C. and the BC Construction Association (BCCA) marked International Women’s Day today with the launch of the Builders Code, a comprehensive program that aims to address B.C.’s skilled labour shortage by reducing harassment, bullying and hazing on construction worksites. The Builders Code defines an Acceptable Worksite and provides employers with tools, training and resources to improve and promote safe and productive worksite behavior.
Read More
February 25, 2019

Risk Alerts Issued for Two Provincial Construction Projects

The BC Construction Association (BCCA) has today issued two Contractor’s Alerts warning BC contractors of “Onerous Bidding Conditions” on two Prince George construction projects being procured by BC Housing. The projects are a building envelope remediation on Westwood Court and renovation work on the Hart Haven Group Home at Dagg Road, both in Prince George. Total value of both projects is $9.5M - $5M on Westwood Court and $4.5M on the Hart Haven project.
Read More
February 07, 2019

Supporting BC's Skilled Workforce

LNG Canada and the BC Construction Association (BCCA) today announced that Marissa McTavish, an electrical apprentice from Prince George, has become the 1,000th participant in LNG Canada’s Trades Training Fund (TTF) and her employer, Primus Electric, the 500th employer to sponsor an employee with the Fund.
Read More
January 22, 2019

British Columbia Construction Association Selected to Provide Pre-Arrival Services

Pre-arrival settlement services are a key element of Canada’s immigration program. They provide newcomers, including refugees, with the information and settlement support they need to make informed decisions about their new life in Canada before they arrive, such as how to prepare for finding a job. To help deliver these important services, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be providing funding of $3.4 million to the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA).
Read More
September 17, 2018

BCCA Integrated Membership Update 2017

There are a record-breaking number of significant issues applying pressure to BC’s construction industry this year, and BCCA is working at the provincial level to make sure industry’s concerns and recommendations are heard loud and clear.
Read More
August 30, 2018

Response to Federal Court of Appeal's Trans Mountain Pipeline Decision

BCCA is extremely disappointed by the Federal Court of Appeal's Trans Mountain expansion project decision today which undermines Canada’s economy and role on the global stage. This blow to investor confidence comes at a time when BC is already under pressure from new tariffs, taxation, and policy directives.
Read More
August 24, 2018

New BC Building and Plumbing Code 2018

The new BC Building and Plumbing Code will be effective December 10, 2018 and will apply to building permits applied for on or after that date. The BC Fire Code is anticipated to be adopted in the fall of 2018 and effective December 10, 2018. Buildings with permits in place under the previous 2012 BC Building Code will generally not be affected by the adoption of the new code.
Read More
August 02, 2018

Industry Voices - Industry Must Come Together

Premier Horgan's Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is the most dangerous and disruptive policy to be introduced by any government into our industry in recent memory. Whether you are a union or an open-shop employer, your basic rights and freedoms as Canadians are being blatantly disregarded, as is government's obligation for fair, open and transparent procurement practises.
Read More
July 27, 2018

Pattullo Procurement Strategy Takes BC Construction a Bridge Too Far

The new Pattullo Bridge Community Benefits Agreement patently illustrates what is unfair with our current government’s policy decision to mandate the nature and extent of procurement requirements in major public construction projects. For BCCA, an association that hinges its principles on fair, open and transparent procurement practices, this agreement is taking public policy in construction tendering a bridge too far.
Read More
July 18, 2018

Response to the Province’s Community Benefits Agreement Announcement

BCCA is working with our counterparts at the local, provincial and national levels to inform government on the risks of Community Benefit Agreements, and to educate public owners on the use of fair, open, and transparent procurement processes which are an obligation and responsibility of government to taxpayers.
Read More
June 21, 2018

Tackling the Late Payment Epidemic: What Will It Take?

"Prompt payment” is a familiar issue in the construction industry. Of course there’s nothing prompt about it. It’s the LACK of prompt payment that makes it an issue, handicapping our industry, squeezing the small contractors, and pushing risk down into the supply chain onto those who can least afford to carry it.
Read More
May 30, 2018

Understanding Risk British Columbia (UR+ BC) Video #URBC

The Understanding Risk British Columbia (UR+ BC) symposium, hosted April 16 & 17, 2018 in Victoria BC, marked the first time the construction industry played a leadership role in bringing together builders, designers, engineers, scientists, and policymakers to tackle the challenges of hazard mitigation and increased resilience in the industrial, commercial, and institutional built environment.
Read More
May 29, 2018

BCCA Response to Federal Purchase of Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 Billion

Official Statement - The BC Construction Association has long been a strong public supporter of BC’s oil and gas strategy and of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline in particular, recognizing the significance of the project for the economic prosperity of British Columbia and the rest of Canada provided that all environmental safety stipulations are met.
Read More
April 17, 2018

Construction Leadership Award Winners 2018

#ConstructionMonthBC wouldn't be complete without a Construction Leadership Dinner. We honoured Amy Carr, Mary-Anne Bowcott, Karen Anderson, Becky Lupton, Max Ignatiuk, Jerry Pasitney & Tracey MacKinnon for their industry leadership roles.
Read More
April 12, 2018

UR+ BC Panelist: Jessica Shoubridge

Principal, Thrive Consulting, Director, EERI-BC, and UR+ BC Organizer, Jessica Shoubridge, has worked across all orders of government, academia, non-profits and the private sector to help bridge gaps between science, policy, and action for risk reduction and resilience building.
Read More
March 19, 2018

A Conversation with Dr. Lucy Jones

We're with Lucy Jones, an expert in earthquake research and earthquake risk reduction from LA. Lucy is the 2018 distinguished lecturer for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, BC Branch. She's in Victoria to talk about creating resilience in our communities, particularly about creating building codes that reflect the realities of earthquake loses.
Read More
February 20, 2018

BC Budget 2018 – What you need to know

“It’s an ambitious budget that is working hard to provide assistance to equity seeking groups, which we can all appreciate. But it’s likely to be hard on small businesses who will see increased expenses – this is concerning because employers already have a significant cost burden. “ - Chris Atchison, President, BCCA
Read More
February 14, 2018

BCCA responds to throne speech

The BC Construction Association is encouraged that yesterday’s Speech from the Throne means good things ahead for all of BC’s tradespeople.
Read More
December 18, 2017

"Best bid" named construction phrase of the year

BCCA named “Best Bid” the most important two words in construction this year, following a statement by Premier Horgan in October to the BC Federation of Labour: “Low bids might be good for BC Liberals, but “best bids” are what we are going to do” said the Premier.
Read More
October 30, 2017

Women Build Nations

In Chicago on October 14-15, nearly 1700 tradeswomen from across North America came together with their own anthem, Women Build Nations.
Read More
October 03, 2017

Fewer BC Youth Entering Trades for First Time in 4 Years

The BC Construction Association (BCCA) is reporting a decrease in the proportion of BC high school graduates entering the construction trades, in key figures released today for the province’s industrial, commercial, and institutional construction sector.
Read More
September 25, 2017

Deputy Minister’s Industry Infrastructure Forum (DMIIF)

After a brief hiatus during the recent election period, the DMIIF brings together Deputy Ministers from the six big infrastructure ministries with industry representatives to work together on big issues that impact the construction industry.
Read More
September 12, 2017

BCCA Responds to Budget Announcement

BCCA fully supports a budget that puts families and working people first. Given the size of our sector and the role that contractors and their workforces play in the provincial economy, we believe that all issues are in some way construction industry issues.
Read More
September 07, 2017

Letter to Michael Atkinson, CCA

The BC Construction Association, as the voice for the industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) construction sector in British Columbia, supports CCA’s participation in the above-mentioned coalition letter opposing the federal government’s tax proposals affecting incorporated small businesses.
Read More
May 22, 2017

2017 BC Election Results: Key Issues Impacting the Construction Industry

Premier Clark holds a minority government but has not resigned, pledging to recall the MLAs to the Legislature by the end of June. At that time, the NDP and the Green Party (who have officially allied to form a majority) will present a non-confidence motion in Clark and the Liberal Party. Here’s how they stand on key issues impacting our industry...
Read More
May 17, 2017

New Construction Industry Report Shows Procurement Drives Innovation

The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) has published a follow-up to its Innovation Report (February 2016), which revealed BC’s construction sector lags behind other jurisdictions when it comes to innovation. The new report is called “Procuring Innovation” and lays out the case for the sector to recognize the procurement process as the key for driving innovative projects and sector development.
Read More
December 06, 2016

Chris Atchison Named BCCA President

The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) announced today that Chris Atchison has been named incoming President, replacing retiring incumbent Manley McLachlan. The handover will begin on January 3, with McLachlan staying on in an advisory capacity until March 31, 2017.
Read More
September 26, 2016

Ross McLean Receives Distinguished Service Award

The BC Construction Association has awarded a Distinguished Service Award to Houle Electric’s Regional Manager Ross McLean, in recognition of his contributions to the growth and stature of British Columbia’s construction industry.
Read More