While Canada has come a long way in equalizing the playing field between men and women when it comes to work, labour, and employment, there is most definitely still a gender gap whereby women are disadvantaged.
This is most evident in the skilled trades, where women make up a mere 4.5% of workers, a shockingly low statistic, according to a 2017 report.
Well, the local Sault Ste. Marie Home Depot is seeking to break down those gendered silos, taking a stand in the fight for women’s rights.
For the third year in a row, Home Depot has hosted the public French school board, Grand Nord de l’Ontario, and the Catholic French school board, Conseil scolaires catholiques du Nouveau- Ontario, for the ‘Women in Trades’ event.
This event saw approximately 40 girls from schools across Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, Elliot Lake, Chapleau, and Blind River come out to try their hand at building and fixing.
The event consisted of three major workshops – installing drywall, installing a toilet with plumbing, and building a flower box.
This allowed the girls to dabble with a variety of different tools alongside the Home Depot staff.
Susie, local store manager, was excited to take part in this event for the third year.
She told SaultOnline, “We got involved three years ago, we were approached to try and get more women into the trades that are typically dominated by males. We also like to promote women and try to get more women into leadership roles in an industry that is clearly dominated by men.”
But it doesn’t just benefit the young girls, Susie said.
“It is a win win for us because we get to show the students some great skills, but we also get the opportunity for our staff to connect with the community, practice public speaking and teaching so that they get to improve themselves as well.”
And speaking of staff, Susie gave a special shout out to three passionate leaders who really made the event possible, Amber and Elaine, both department supervisors, and Catherine, Human Resources Coordinator at Home Depot Sault Ste. Marie
The staff seemed to be having a great time sharing their knowledge with the eager girls looking to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.
Michel Bouchard, from the public board, and Daquise Huot, from the Catholic board, explained that they want to show the girls that it is a possibility to work in the trades.
Huot said, “We’re showing them possibilities, careers that may be non-traditional for them in the moment and have been historically in the past, but hopefully not anymore in the future.”
She continued, “We want to show them that they can be plumbers, electricians, carpenters, whatever they want.”
The teachers were very pleased with the turnout this year, and had nothing but praise about the dedication and community-mindedness of their partners at Home Depot.
In addition to breaking down gendered norms, social pressures, and opening up career opportunities, this event also aims to help build the confidence of women when it comes to tools and labour work.
“Women should be able to understand issues like a leaky pipe, how their plumbing works, and have the confidence to fix this kind of common household problem,” explained Susie.
As a woman who finds herself intimidated by power tools and is guilty of running to her partner when something in the house breaks, I couldn’t agree with Home Depot’s store manager more.
In fact, I wish that voluntary field trips and workshops such as this one were offered when I was a high school student.
Sabrina, a grade nine student from Chapleau Trillium was excited to share with me a run down of her day. “We learned a lot, I got to install a toilet and make sure it doesn’t leak, and fix a hole in drywall, and build a flower bed.”
She continued, “That was my favourite part, because I got to hit the nail really hard with the hammer, and it was fun.”
When asked about what she wants to do when she grows up, Sabrina said, “I’ve thought about being a doctor… I’ve thought about being an accountant… I’ve even thought about being a mechanic. I am not ruling anything out, and I am definitely not ruling out pursuing a career in trades, because I take shop class now at school, and it’s a lot fun.”
Young girls and women should feel that they can explore any career or hobby avenue that they please, even if it is “non-traditional.”
As women, we should never doubt our abilities.
We at SaultOnline can’t wait to see what Home Depot digs up for next year’s ‘Women in Trade’ event!