Advancing Women In Skilled Trades
Young woman in a hard hat

Tools for Educators

Table of Contents

Inclusive Teaching Checklist

This checklist can be used as a tool to develop and deliver a more gender-responsive curriculum in tech/trades classes. This checklist may also be used in non-trades/tech classes as a way to ensure that gender equity is being promoted in the classroom.

Interrupting Microaggressions

Microagressions are defined as brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural or environmental indignities (intentional or unintentional) that communicate derogatory hostile messages to targeted persons and can have a harmful psychological impact on the target person or group (Sue et al., 2007). As an educator, you have the opportunity to address microagressions that may come up in your classes. The following tool can help you be prepared to deal quickly and effectively with a microaggression in the classroom. The chart below displays examples of microaggressions that may affect young women, but keep in mind that microagressions can affect many different individuals or groups of students based on factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, etc.

Ask the student to explain what they said. This will give you more information about their background, and may also help the student to become aware of what they said.
Key Phrases:
“Say more about that please”
“Could you elaborate your point?”
“What did you mean by that?”
“Girls can’t work with tools without getting hurt.”
“These tools are too heavy for girls.”
“It takes forever for the girls to figure out the blueprints and instructions.”
“We don’t want a girl on our team.”
“That’s too hard for girls.”
“Girls can’t function properly during that time of the month.”
“Could you elaborate your point about girls not being good at math or science? Where did you get that idea from?”
Mirror what the student said. This can make the invisible (i.e., unconscious bias) visible for the student.
Key Phrases:
“So, it seems like you think…”
“So, what I heard you say was…”
“So, are you saying that…”
“So, are you saying that girls can’t be good at using tools just because they are girls?”
Create a different way for students to look at the situation. Include a variety of perspectives.
Key Phrases:
“Have you ever thought about it like this…”
“Have you ever considered…”
“Let’s try re-framing this…”
“Let’s try re-framing this for a moment. What are people’s thoughts about what was said? Does anyone have a different perspective?”
Shift the focus to a more accurate perspective. Include factual information to offset the aggression.
Key Phrases:
“In reality…”
“Well, here is another perspective…”
“Statistics show…”
“Girls can’t work with tools without getting hurt
“Well, here is another perspective about young women in STEM based on statistics…”
Even if the moment has passed, go back and re-address the microagression where possible, especially after exposing students to materials that offer different perspectives.
Key Phrases:
“I want to go back to something that was brought up in class last week.”
“Let’s talk about what happened two days ago when we are working with tools”
“I want to go back to what was said in class last week about women working in the trades. Do we feel differently now after seeing these videos?”
Check In
After class, during breaks, over email, etc check in with students, both those who verbalized sexist micro-aggressions and those who have been affected or offended.
Key Phrases:
“I just wanted to touch base with you…”
“Have you ever through about…”
“I just wanted to touch base with you about class today when we were talking about stereotypes. How are you feeling?”
“Have you ever thought about how the statements you made in class today could have a negative effect on your peers?”

Gender-Neutral Language Alternatives

The following suggestions can be used by teachers to promote a more inclusive learning environment in technology and trades classes. By making intentional choices to use more inclusive language, you can create a welcoming environment for all students. According to the Government of Canada’s Department of Justice (2015), gender neutrality is important as it is more respectful, accurate, and is consistent with the values recognized in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The tips below have also been given by the Department of Justice on how to avoid the use of gender-specific language.

General Tips:

Avoid Using:Replace With:
Service ManTechnician, Maintenance Person
Business ManBusiness Executive
JourneymanJourney Person, Tradesperson

Preventing Gender-Based Harassment & Discrimination in the Classroom

The following checklist can be used by technology and trades teachers to assess students’ level of understanding of gender-based harassment and discrimination, and whether students are engaging in harassing or discriminatory behaviours in the classroom.

Do your students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them with regards to general behaviour and conduct towards peers?
Do your students have a fair understanding of the terms gender-bias, harassment, discrimination, and sexism?
Are all of your students aware of your classroom expectations regarding the above factors?
Are these classrooms expectations clearly and consistently communicated with all students?
Do your students demonstrate inclusivity and embrace diversity?
Do your students report incidents of gender-based harassment, discrimination, and sexist comments they witness inside and outside of the classroom?
Do your students use gender-neutral terminology in the classroom?
Do your student refrain from behaviour and language that reinforce gender stereotypes?
Do your student refrain from excluding others from participating in class activities/group work based on gender?
Are your students aware of your school’s procedures and policies regarding discrimination and harassment and their consequences?

Note: If you answer ‘no’ or ‘unsure’ to several of these questions, consider refreshing your students’ understanding of the terms harassment, discrimination, sexism, gender stereotypes, gender-bias and inclusivity. Remind students that gender-based harassment is a form of bullying and interferes with a student’s ability to learn. Explain that often times, we may unintentionally (or intentionally) use non-inclusive, sexist language which can prevent other students from feeling welcomed and comfortable in certain classes. You may also utilize the Student Respect Agreement on the following page to hold students accountable for behaviour once they have a clear understanding of your classroom expectations.

Student Respect Agreement

This agreement should be distributed to students who enroll in a tech/trades class to set clear expectations regarding conduct and to promote accountability for actions and behaviour within the classroom. These agreements can be reviewed by staff, students and parents if and when issues arise.

Here at [School Name], we believe that everyone has an equal right to learn in an inclusive and respectful environment, and that each student deserves to feel welcomed and supported in each of their classrooms. Please read and sign this Student Respect Agreement, which will be kept throughout the duration of this course and revisited if necessary.

I will:

I will not:

Contact List of Local Women in Skilled Trades and Technology

Research indicates that one of the most important factors to the success of young women in technical fields and skilled trades is providing mentors and role models. Young women need to see examples of other women successfully following non-traditional career paths. Below is a contact list of local mentors who have agreed to be a part of this toolkit. These mentors can be contacted to visit your school to speak to young women about pursuing careers in the skilled trades and technical fields.

First NameLast NameCompanyJob TitleEmail AddressCategory
MoniqueBeckettNomis Electric Inc.Master Electricianmonique@nomielectric.comSkilled Trade
BrittanyFarrowBM Farrow Trade
CarolynChongElement AIProduct Ownercarolynchong15@gmail.comTechnology
LindaChigboAlectra UtilitiesOperations Engineerlinda.chigbo@alectrautilities.comTechnology
VanessaWagnerIUEC Local 90Home Renovationbodysugarist@hotmail.comSkilled Trade
ChristineGibsonCanadian Institute for Health InformationSoftware Developerchristine.metamoment@gmail.comTechnology
KathyLeretteAlectra UtilitiesSenior Vice President Business Transformationkathy.lerette@alectrautilities.comSkilled Trade
SunitaAlvezAlves ConsultingConsultantsunita@alvesconsulting.comTechnology
JanineLeeHydro One Inc.Protection and Control Technologistjanine.lee@hydroone.comTechnology
HollieCookN/AConstruction & Maintenance Electricianholliemariecook@gmail.comSkilled Trade
MarlaRobinsonMohawk CollegeMotive Power Instructormarla.robinson@mohawkcollege.caSkilled Trade
ShantaNathwaniWeever AppsQuality Assurance Supervisorshanta@weeverapps.comTechnology
KarenMarajUnitrailsDigital Business Strategistkmaraj@gmail.comTechnology
PikeKrpanHamilton FireFire Fighterpike.krpan@gmail.comMale-dominated Profession

Classroom Activities in the Skilled Trades and Technology

The following ideas can be utilized to expose students to the many post-secondary options and future career opportunities available to them in the skilled trades and technical fields. These activities will also help dispel gender stereotypes that students may hold about skilled trades/technology workers.