It’s hardly breaking news that women are particularly under-represented in the industrial trades industry. The student thesis Pink Nail Project aims to change that, seeking to raise awareness for women entering non-traditional occupations—particularly the male-dominated skilled trades, like construction, auto mechanics and plumbing.
With Toronto in a perpetual state of construction and good contractors difficult to pin-down, the market is potentially lucrative for a skilled tradesperson. In fact, mechanics are one of the top five hardest positions for employers to fill, with labourers, truck drivers and machine operators following suit.
For those that are unemployed or have worked in low-paying fields, women have historically found themselves in conventional service-industry jobs, often making it virtually impossible to earn a significant salary or gain financial independence. It’s the alarming cycle of poverty that the Pink Nail Project is attempting to highlight—one in five Canadian women live in poverty, and Canada has the fifth largest wage gap between the genders out of the world’s 29 most developed countries.
Though some women may feel intimidated by making the significant change to train for an unfamiliar profession, they are an enormous, generally untapped resource for the trades industry. Organizations like the Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC) aim to secure training and long-term stability for women in the field, enhanced with mentoring programs, outreach and networking projects, as well as raising the visibility of female faces in the trades. Companies like Tomboy Trades is even offering (perhaps stereotypical) female-oriented gear like pink work boots and colourful hard hats, but also incorporates a directory of tradeswomen across Canada. Habitat for Humanity offers their Women Build program, which is meant to provide women with new skills and leadership opportunities.
As anyone looking to patch a burst pipe or fix their air conditioning can tell you, there aren’t enough tradespeople to go around in this city. An investment in training more Canadian women for skilled trade labour is also an investment in our economy, but more significantly, it’s granting opportunity for those who may be shackled by the cycle of poverty to gain control over their economic independence—and have fun doing it. When it comes to nails, these ones are iron; not acrylic.
The Pink Nail Project is facilitating donations to CAWIC via the independently-owned Dudley Hardware store on Church Street, just north of Wellesley. Customers are given the opportunity to donate when making their other purchases and receive a symbolic pink industrial nail in return.