Sexism continues to reign in construction industry
A woman who sends a CV to a Quebec construction company is turned down but her brother who sends in the exact same CV gets a job offer.
Another woman sees her CV torn up by the manager of another construction company in front of male workers while he tells her he'll be sure to call her.
Yet another woman is the target of sexual and psychological harassment while on the job.
Those are the kinds of stories culled over three years in the province by the Conseil d'intervention pour l'accès des femmes au travail which has released a dismal portrait of women in the Quebec's construction industry that shows systemic discrimination and serious cases of sexual and psychological harassment.
While construction jobs in Quebec have been booming over the past decade, at a growth of over 60%, women make up only 1.3% of the workforce,with Quebec ranking the worst in the country. And if they do find a job, more than 60% leave after five years. The Conseil's report also found that women have nowhere to turn for resources or support systems to help them in cases of harassment or discrimination.
Advisor with the Conseil Valerie Bell, who was an electrician for ten years, said the discrimination was daily and systemic.
"You walk into the construction shack, and all the guys are looking at you and say, 'Hey, we got a woman on the job, finally we have somebody who's going to sweep the floors and do the dishes.' I mean, ha, ha, ha, at first, it's like, 'Yeah, yeah, really funny, ha, ha, ha.' And after awhile it just gets so repetitive and redundant and ridiculous and you realize, can we just move on and get beyond that, I'm here to be working like everyone else," Bell told CJAD News.
Jennifer Beeman, who authored the report, said it's up to employers and male co-workers to step up.
"That kind of just taking responsibility for not putting up with that garbage, that's what we need to do, you have to stand up and say, 'No, that's not what we accept here,' " Beeman said.
The Conseil is calling on the government to enforce a minimum 4% hiring quota on public construction sites, to create an awareness and prevention program targetting harassment, and to come up with a job training, placement and follow up program.
Photo: Shuyee Lee/CJAD acrhives