Advancing Women In Skilled Trades
Female Engineer in a hardhat

About Advancing Women in Trades

About the Project

Building Opportunities: Advancing Women in Non-Traditional Occupations is a three-year project led by YWCA Hamilton collaboration with Workforce Planning Hamilton (WPH), funded by Status of Women Caanda. The project began in 2014 and launched a survey developed by WPH with input from an advisory comittee. Building Opportunities is designed to research, understand, and communicate the barriers and opportunities for women in Hamilton, Ontario who are working towards, or established in, non-traditional occupations.

How to use this Toolkit

This toolkit is composed of three chapters: Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement. Each chapter gives statistics and information on the key barriers to women in the skilled trades and offers concrete practices to help diversify your workplace. Also, see the equality-promoting posters at the end of this document.


We would like to thank the dedicated members of the focus groups for providing stories of their challenges and successes of working in non-traditional occupations. Their input and suggestions were used to shape the tools in this booklet.

Thank you to the employers who provided the YWCA Hamilton and Workforce Planning Hamilton with their best practices and feedback on their workplace culture and policies. YWCA Hamilton and Workforce Planning Hamilton would like to thank the following groups and individuals for their support in the Building Opportunities: Advancing Women in Non-Traditional Occupations project.

Advisory Committee Members:

  • ArcelorMittal Dofasco
  • Canadian Apprenticeship Forum
  • City of Hamilton
  • CT&G Automative Specialists
  • Government of Ontario: Training, Colleges and Universities
  • Halton Industry Education Council
  • Hamilton Chamber of Commerce
  • Industry Education Council of Hamilton
  • Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee
  • LJ Barton Mechnical Inc.
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of Hamilton
  • Mohawk College
  • The Robar Centre
  • Sexual Assult Centre, Hamilton and Area (SACHA)
  • Victor Electric


  • Adventec Manufacturing Inc.
  • ArcelorMittal
  • City of Hamilon
  • CT&G Auto
  • Invizij Architects
  • Pollard Windows
  • Taylor Plumbing
  • Victor Electric

Social norms are evolving

Women are more than capable of working in the trades. The current workplace culture for women can be uninviting, and uncomfortable, and this must change in favour of inclusivity. In the past, non-traditional occupations included fields of medicine and law, but in 2015, it is more common for women to be represented in these occupations. Social norms and stereotypes are fluid and can change with individual actions. In this document, designed for the skilled trades sector, YWCA Hamilton and Workforce Planning Hamilton have developed well-researched tools to help establish sound policies to create a diverse workplace.