Exposure Leads To Empowerment: Breaking The Bias In Skilled Trades

Woman of Steel participant welding a T joint in the horizontal position using the Shielded Metal Arc welding process.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we think it’s time to #breakthebias against women in skilled trades. Women can do any job—even if it means carrying heavy equipment on their shoulders or cutting and bending metal in preparation for welding. They’re strong, and they’re here to work.

The stigma behind women in skilled trades has prevailed for decades and, time and again, proven to be completely unfounded. The lack of female representation in skilled trades is often attributed to the idea that it’s a male-only industry. Even though it’s male-dominated, this idea has created a self-fulfilling prophecy that needs reversing.

The good news is there’s been a slow but steady influx of women starting careers in the skilled trades—with many believing these jobs are unfit for women. Trust us when we say gender does not dictate capability and potential.

According to the Royal Bank of Canada, only five per cent of the skilled trade workforce in Canada are women. The reasons behind such a small percentage stretch beyond preconceived notions of what a tradesperson looks like. Lack of exposure, insufficient encouragement and self-belief are some of the many reasons women and minority groups never consider entering a skilled trade like welding.

Exposure is one of the greatest tools to help close the gender gap. Exposing women to skilled trades at a young age through school programs and summer camps has helped tremendously. Girls who participate in these programs often find them so inspiring and empowering that they pursue careers in skilled trades. Women need to be encouraged to believe in themselves, know that they can do anything, and understand that the skilled trades can be an exciting and fulfilling career choice. And that’s exactly the outcome we strive for.

One of the ways the CWB Welding Foundation tackles the gender gap, and the skilled labour shortage is by hosting focused welding events and facilitating fully-funded programs for women, Indigenous people and youth.

For years, our Women of Steel (WOS) has supported women in welding through strategic engagement programs, both virtual and hands-on. The WOS program provides learning opportunities that foster education, growth, confidence, and experiences for women across Canada who’ve been interested in exploring welding and welding-related career options while learning valuable skills. We’ve helped women of all experience levels feel empowered and build their support networks to achieve their career goals. The mentorship and hands-on experience these women have received goes a long way and plants seeds for future careers when young women see themselves represented in the workforce.

Even though International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month are celebrated in March, we should celebrate women of all ages every day of the year and encourage the next generation to move into these overlooked roles. Let them become welders, electricians, plumbers, construction managers, anything they want to be. By empowering women to pursue careers outside their scope and providing the tools and resources they need to get there, we can work together to achieve a future where women are truly empowered to pursue their dreams.

If you or someone you know is interested in welding or the skilled trades, please reach out to us at to learn more about starting a fulfilling and lucrative career.