by Michael Ouellette
Much of what we do here at Shop Metalworking Technology Magazine is based on technology and how to use it. It’s a good fit with our editorial mission of community service journalism—doing all we can to help boost metalworking and fabricating shops here in Canada.
We believe in manufacturing as a driver for Canada’s economy, as it is one of the only economic segments that is built on truly adding value—manufacturers make incredible things out of relatively mundane raw materials.
Another focus for us is telling the story of metalworking in Canada, and this month is no different.
In this issue, we are telling the story of women working in job shops. It’s a timely topic—hiring more women in industrial jobs is one of the best ways to fix the ongoing lack of skilled trades availability. And there is a push to attract more women into the trades, with groups such as CME, CTMA and CWB Association developing skills training and apprenticeship programs directly aimed at promoting women in trades. The government of Canada is investing money in boosting women business owners. However, researching this story showed us there is still work to be done.
According to Statistics Canada, industrial sectors such as manufacturing, mining and resources and transportation and warehousing have some of the lowest concentrations of women-owned businesses in our economy.
It’s not just ownership where women are underrepresented. The instructor of a first-year machinist program told me he probably averages one female student per semester. And images in media tend to promote old stereotypes of a woman’s role in the workplace—often shown in unrealistic working environments that would have failed even the basics of a workplace safety inspection.
We have been covering the manufacturing sector long enough to know these instances don’t tell the story of women in industry, who are found working throughout manufacturing, from the front office to the shop floor.
That’s why the intrepid writers at Shop went out and spoke to them. Our cover story in this issue looks at what got them interested in manufacturing, examines their goals and aspirations, and outlines their path from apprentice to executive. Not only are these women highly skilled at their jobs, they provide a different perspective and a competitive advantage in what is still a male-dominated industry. If you know a woman just starting her career, hopefully this story will give them inspiration. And if you are pondering hiring a woman for your next job opening, our cover story is confirmation that you are making an excellent choice. SMT