Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mike Holmes: Women in the Trades Inspire Change

March 8 is International Women's Day, and although he's definitely not a woman, Mike Holmes is celebrating. Why? Because in his eyes, women (who make up a measly 6% of those employed in the skilled trades in Canada) work hard and inspire their male counterparts to be honest. When it comes to employing women in the trades, Mike doesn't just talk the talk, he actually practices what he preaches and puts women in key positions on his crew, including his daughter Sherry who is a skilled tile layer. Mike makes a great point when he says "the truth is [the skilled trades] was never a man’s world. The world of trades belongs to everyone — it always has, and that’s the bigger point." Mike is spot on -- there is absolutely nothing about being a master plumber or electrician that makes these jobs inaccessible to women. Jobs in the skilled trades are not only lucrative, but are becoming increasingly in demand as people in Mike's generation begin to retire. With a labor shortage on the horizon, Mike continues to bang the drum, encouraging both men and women to consider the skilled trades as a viable career opportunity.
From the Ottawa Citizen:

Women inspire change

Let's make the trades accessible for everyone



Sherry Holmes works on her father’s construction site as a member of his Make It Right Crew, and she inspires others to consider non-traditional careers.

March 8 is International Women’s Day. I’m not a woman, but I’m a dad of two daughters, have one granddaughter, and I work with women on the job site — one of my daughters included. So it’s important to me that women get the respect they deserve and the support they need.
Every year International Women’s Day has a different theme. For example, last year it was to end violence against women; the year before that was about ending hunger and poverty. This year’s theme is inspiring change and, as someone who knows a thing or two about women in the trades, I know that they inspire change every day.
But unfortunately, only 6.4 per cent of Canadian skilled trades workers were women in 2009; only one in 10 apprentices are women. Women are usually in the top 10 per cent of their class, but they’re still the last to get hired, and when they do, men are twice as likely to get a better job offer.
I hire women, and it’s not just for TV appeal. I believe them to be better workers — they keep the men honest.
Anyone who works in the trades is already a hero to me — girls, boys, young, old — because the work isn’t easy; it’s underappreciated, undervalued and, bottom line, it’s tough work that requires even tougher skin. But every time I go to a trade show or trade school and I see more and more women there, interested, engaged and dedicated to doing the best at what they do, I’m hopeful about where this industry is headed.
They say the trades are still a “man’s world,” but that is starting to change. The truth is it was never a man’s world. The world of trades belongs to everyone — it always has, and that’s the bigger point.
It was a woman who invented the first electric water heater — Ida Forbes. Women were also responsible for giving us the first circular saw used in a sawmill, windshield wipers, the dishwasher and Kevlar, the stuff used to make bulletproof vests.
And who knows how many other inventions women had a hand in creating or developing that we will never know about? Remember, there was a time when women couldn’t own property, and that included patents. If a woman wanted a patent, it belonged to her father or husband.
Women might not have always received the credit they deserve, but they have definitely influenced the skilled trades and continue to do so.
Inspiring change starts with people brave enough to step off the “traditional” path to do what they love — for real. But it’s not just women on the front lines; it’s also the institutions that support them, employers who will hire them, colleagues who will work with them, and educators who train them.
I know women are ready. But is everyone else? Are we welcoming change, or resisting it and making it harder for anyone who dares to be more than what we expect them to be?
My daughter Sherry brought up a great point: “You can have a powerful opinion, but it’s only powerful if you do something about it.” And for her, equality in power is not having to explain herself. If everyone can do what they want to do, why should she have to explain herself just because what she is doing isn’t traditional, for her. “I’m just going to do it,” is what she says.
I can’t agree with her more.
I’d like to see the day when a woman working as a plumber, electrician or carpenter isn’t something out of the ordinary, when she can walk into any trade, on any campus and in any classroom and not worry about being treated differently because of her gender — because, yes, it still happens — and more importantly, not have to explain herself for the choices she’s made.
Women working in the trades today are doing more than just their job. They are changing the world and the future — not just of other women, but for everyone.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information, visit

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