More women going into trades find work satisfactory

As the only women on construction sites Casey King and Sarah Rea have heard their fair share of whistles, catcalls, lewd and crude comments.

Casey King

Casey King

KELOWNA, B.C. — As the only women on construction sites Casey King and Sarah Rea have heard their fair share of whistles, catcalls, lewd and crude comments.

“You have to have a thick skin,” said Rea, an apprentice electrician who attended the recent Empowering Women in Trades conference at Kelowna’s Okanagan College.

“I either ignore the whistles or whistle right back,” continues Rea, who is 5 1/2 months pregnant. “It usually calms down once the guys know I’m there to work and I do a good job.”King, a carpentry apprentice, puts men behaving badly in their place right away. “Women who work in the trades have to be a particular personality,” she said.

“They have to be prepared for some harassment and have it not bother them. I tell them I’m there to work and then proceed to do a great job. And I never date a guy from work.”

The Empowering Women in Trades event brought together women apprentices, tradespeople, employers and college officials.

College trades and apprenticeship program administrator Nancy Darling said the program has enrolled 135 women in trades programs and expect to have 200 by the time the pilot closes in March 2010.”