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6 Useful Resources for Women in Construction

6 Useful Resources for Women in Construction

Advice for contractor6 Useful Resources for Women in Construction

As things stand, in Quebec, women are still under-represented in the construction industry. However, a lot of them aren’t second-guessing themselves when it comes to pursuing training in the hopes of carving out a place for themselves in this male-dominated industry.

Today, the construction industry accounts for over 6,000 women on worksites, meaning 3.27% of the overall workforce. This implies that there’s a lot of work left to be done to promote gender equality on construction worksites.

6 Helpful Resources for Female Construction Contractors

Source: Canva

1. Les Elles de la Construction: A women-only mentorship program

The Elles de la Construction is an organization that was founded in 2013, with the mission to promote women’s rights and interests in the construction industry, fostering their assimilation in the workforce. The goal behind this association is to encourage all-ranking women in construction, whether that be female contractors, female project managers, women in the workforce, or women in trades.

The Elles de la Construction organizes numerous events, such as happy hours and award ceremonies, allowing women in the construction industry to interact, network, and boost their professional profiles. 

Courtesy of the support provided by the Commission de la Construction du Québec (CCQ) and the Secrétariat à la condition féminine (women’s affairs), the Elles de la Construction launched two mentorship programs for women looking to spark their careers in construction:

  • Mentorship program for women in trades

  • Mentorship program for women coming from immigrant backgrounds or representing cultural minorities.

These two programs are made accessible free of charge and include training programs and networking workshops between mentees to help participants make a career for themselves in construction. 

To learn more about mentorship programs, click here.

2. “Les Filles de la construction”

Les Filles de la construction is a company that materialized organically as a result of a couple’s undertakings following their purchase of a duplex in 2019. Marie-France Côté-Nolet and her partner were new homeowners and had a lot on their plates, to say the least… On top of that, they lacked experience. Her background was in marketing, and he also had less than any construction-related experience. 

They quickly found themselves ankle-deep in large-scale renovations—French drain, foundation, roofing, windows. And that’s not all: Given that her partner was working full-time and she was on a leave of absence from work at the time, they agreed that she would manage the renovation projects. With big undertakings ahead and no experience under their belts, neither she nor her partner knew where to start. 

For some contractors in the industry, being a woman is synonymous with incompetence, and some will, unfortunately, seek to profit from the inexperience some women present. Luckily, Côté-Nolet also met several good contractors along the way, because obviously, there are plenty of those too, yet the flip side is also a reality.

Two years of renovations later, a few extra grey hairs, and some hindsight, Côté Nolet started to write about the obstacles met and how she was able to overcome them. The twists and turns, mishaps, and jobs well done have been the foundation of the company’s blog, founded by Côté-Nolet in 2021.

Les Filles de construction is a company that trains, coaches, and supports women wishing to undertake large-scale construction projects themselves.

This company focuses on problems that Côté-Nolet faced as a female entrepreneur:

  • Not knowing who to trust

  • Not knowing what to do when a contractor failed to communicate or pushed the project’s start date

  • Lack of support (celebrating the good and properly navigating the mishaps)

Company perks for the 600 members: 

1. Provides training programs designed for the following:

  • How to manage renovations and see a return on investment (6 weeks)

  • L’Institut Manuel: learning the DIY way (6 weeks)

  • Bathroom Masterclass (3hr)

2. A support group is made available for members during which questions about various topics are broached. Questions are answered by a community of women who’ve been through it all.

3. Offers discounts on building materials

3. A CMMTQ-provided resource: The Femmes en entreprise training program

Source: Canva

The Corporation des maîtres mécaniciens en tuyauterie du Québec (CMMTQ—Corporation of master pipe-mechanics in Quebec) unites 2,700 specialized contractors working in building mechanics, more specifically, heating and plumbing. 

Amongst the training programs offered by the CMMTQ, there’s the Programme pour la formation des femmes en entreprise. Said program is entirely financed by the Fonds des formation des salariés de l’industrie de la construction (FFSIC), which was designed to train and guide women, as well as their workplace teams. It’s a process that fosters access, assimilation, and sustaining women in the workforce, while also broadening their learning on construction worksites.

One of the program’s main objectives is to incite companies to hire women who have completed this training. As a result, 30% of the employee’s salary will be covered by the FFSIC—up to $10,000 and for a period of up to 52 weeks.

The CMMTQ also advocates for women by offering a scholarship—the $1,000 Jocelyne-Meunier-Desjardins scholarship—to a female student working toward receiving a certification in a male-dominated trade. 

4. CCQ’s Programme d’accès à l’égalité des femmes dans l’industrie de la construction (Program for equal access for women in the construction industry)

The CCQ, alongside the following slogans: “Ce casque n’a pas de sexe” (This hard hat is genderless), “Femme ou homme, c’est la compétence qui compte” (Skills matter, not gender), “Les mentalités évoluent, les chantiers aussi” (Times are changing, so are worksites), have clearly stated their stance during their awareness campaign launched in 2016. The goal behind it is to, without a doubt, shift the stagnant mind frame toward women working in the construction industry. 

This campaign, fostering gender equality on worksites is among the efforts deployed by the CCQ and industry partners to bring to fruition the goal set within the foundation of the 2014-2025 Program for equal access for women in the construction industry.

5. Evol, for entrepreneurial-minded individuals

Source: Canva

If you’re an entrepreneur at heart and are hoping to start your own construction company, know that funds are available to help men and women bring their entrepreneurial projects to fruition. Since 1995, Evol (formerly Femmessor) has contributed to company creation, growth, and acquisition.

The organization operates in 17 regions throughout Quebec and offers financing coupled with personalized guidance tailored to the specific needs of the entrepreneurs in question.

In other words, the organization offers the following:

  • Financing through a conventional loan or share capital

  • Advisory services as well as a business mentorship program

  • A training service (workshops and conferences)

  • Activities, events, and networking occasions within an entrepreneurial community

6. The CIAFT (Conseil d'intervention pour l'accès des femmes au travail) and ensuring equal opportunities in construction

The CIAFT was created in 1982 to defend the interests of women in the workforce. One of the main issues broached by this organization is ensuring equal opportunity in male-dominated industries. The CIAFT recognizes the contribution of initiatives in the construction industry and adds its own set of initiatives.

The trousse virtuelle Femmes et emplois majoritairement masculins (FEMM —virtual toolkit for women in male-dominated trades) adds a lot of resources for women looking to make a career for themselves in a predominantly male industry. The resources are divided into seven categories:

  • Collaborative efforts made to facilitate women joining male-dominated trades

  • Career choice and trade exploration

  • Construction and mining sectors

  • Workplace rights

  • Integration, employment retention, and gender equality management

  • Government policies and strategies

  • Gender equality access program

Whether you’re faced with a dispute at some point in your career or went to prepare for whatever may be thrown your way, the CIAFT has plenty of resources for women requiring help and support during their time in such workplaces. 

A Woman’s Perspective: Sara Cautain, CEO of Bâtitelle Inc., a Renovation and Construction Company

Source: Canva

“I started my company after moving away from Montréal and settling in Trois-Revières. I was a carpenter-woodworker, but what I really wanted was to prove myself to my employers and showcase my skills. I have to say, as a woman, it’s that much harder to find a job and gain recognition from other workers. It’s what pushed me to start my own company, becoming a female entrepreneur in the construction industry.”

Cautain didn’t need to take an exam to obtain her RBQ permit. She completed the Gestion d’une entreprise de la construction program (construction company management) given by the École des métiers de la construction de Montréal. It’s a 450-hour training program that, once all modules are completed, automatically grants you a contractor’s licence. This program is offered in the evening (from 5 pm to 10 pm), which allows students to keep their day jobs while completing their training.

When asked about the hardships she faced in the past, now an entrepreneur, Cautain revealed that it’s much easier to be a female entrepreneur than a construction worker. For that reason alone, she widely encourages women to take the leap and start their own renovation company.

“Oftentimes, women take over home renovation decisions. As such, my clients are primarily women. They aren’t looking for male or female contractors specifically, they are looking to get along with the hired contractor for quality work in the end, which is rather encouraging,” she concluded.

Want to know more about the entrepreneurial side of construction? Check out these two articles:  

Women in Construction: Eager for Betterment, Resources at the Ready

Striving to support women in the construction industry, employer associations and unions have combined forces to fight against misconduct, harassment, and sexual harassment on construction worksites. A helpline (ligne relais-construction 1 844 374-4149) was set up, allowing victims to be heard.

If you’re still on the fence about delving into the adventure that is becoming a female construction contractor or entrepreneur, note that there are several resources made available to help guide the success of your entrepreneurial endeavours.

The challenges of gender equality in the construction industry are no longer a kept secret and, although the record could be better, a lot of organizations are fully committed to helping female entrepreneurs, whether they be project managers, contractors, or construction tradespersons. If a career in construction seems like the right fit, jump in with both feet!

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Last modified 2024-06-03

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