They call her a trailblazer.
Victoria-based sheet metal worker Amy Carr was recently honoured for her work as a tradesperson at the B.C. Construction Leadership Awards.
“It was nice that they were recognizing women and nice to be thought of that way by my peers, who nominated me,” says the Red Seal certified journeyman who is also a mom of three and a part-time little league coach.
Carr was nominated by a union sister who described her as a role model for women in the sheet metal trade, who “continuously seeks to improve and expand her knowledge and skills.”
Along with serving as the safety officer in her shop at Lewis Sheet Metal, Carr is a member of the Vancouver Island Construction Association and the joint apprentice committee of Build Together, a national program that supports and mentors women in the skilled construction trades.
In March, she was part of the Build Together team that secured $1.8 million in funding for pilot projects aimed at women in the trades.
The funding is to be directed toward providing courses in shifting the culture around women in the trades, community outreach, and working with trades schools to encourage women to stay in their jobs.
“There’s so much focus on recruiting women to work in the trades, but not enough on retention,” Carr says, pointing to the fewer than three per cent of all apprentices in construction and industry trades who are women.
“It’s hard, it’s not always easy on job sites,” she says, crediting her carpenter husband for keeping her going when the going got tough.
“We all have our struggles on the job, as males and females, there’s a lot to learn, but women seem to have it a little harder,” she says.
The good part, Carr says, is more women are coming up in the trades, and that’s what is needed: “Women supporting other women.”
Of the six B.C. tradespeople honoured alongside Carr for their contributions to the construction workforce, three others were women.
“We’re getting there, we’re starting to get the respect,” she says, hopeful for the progress she sees. “Our work and our work ethic is proving we have a place and we belong there.”
The awards were hosted by the B.C. Construction Association (BCCA), the four Regional Construction Associations, the Industry Training Authority, WorkSafeBC and the provincial government.
“It’s a great privilege to honour the hard-working women and men who are the backbone of B.C.’s construction sector,” said BCCA president Chris Atchison.
Over 225,000 British Columbians currently work in construction and the skilled trades, supported by 24,000 employers.
“The numbers are impressive,” Atchison said. “But it’s crucial that we stay focused on the individuals and businesses that rely on us to make choices that ensure a productive and resilient sector.”