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Women in construction

“Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued. I’ve always said: smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things.”
- Claudia Brind-Woody, Vice President and Managing Director at IBM.

12.4 per cent of trade workers in Canada are women. Encouraging women and girls to pursue work and education in the construction field can even unlock a potential new way of doing things!

This year we wanted to sit down with a few women on our team and highlight the work they are doing in celebration of Women in Construction Week and International Women’s Day!

A photo of Chandos assistant superintendent Katelyn Stack.

Katelyn Stack
Assistant Superintendent
3.5 years working at Chandos

Katelyn started working at Chandos in 2019, but her career in construction started in 2011. She began as a site clerk, realized she loved the dynamic workplace and decided to pursue an education in construction engineering. She had a unique experience working as a student, seeing the challenges and opportunities in the industry. “I really enjoy how fast paced the working environment is. I found that I had a lot of passion for construction, so I continued with it. The rest is history!”. She returned as a project engineer after graduation and is now an assistant superintendent here at Chandos!

We asked Katelyn what innovative techniques she uses on the job site and she and her teams use building information modelling (BIM) and virtual construction design (VDC). Her teams use BIM and VDC for clash detection, making sure there are no conflicting elements taking up the same space on the project, “They are both great tools for our self-perform crews”.

Natasha Swan
Journeyman Carpenter
5 years working at Chandos

Natasha Swan started in construction in 2015 as a labourer. She joined our Edmonton team in 2018 after being referred by the Alberta Indigenous Construction Career Centre, a unique service implemented by Norquest College.

We asked Natasha about the collaborative construction methods that she uses every day on site: “We strive to make lean construction part of our day-to-day work, be it through ordering accurate amounts of material before needed, pull plan meetings, or making a cut list to avoid overproduction.” 

Natasha has worked on many projects across Alberta, but her favourite project so far was the Acheson Reservoir, in Acheson, AB. This site included a cast-in-place concrete portable water reservoir serving the Parkland County community and made Edmonton construction history by being the first all female concrete-pour crew in Alberta! During the project, Natasha and her team completed self-performed peri formwork for the first time on the 14,500 sq. ft. facility.

Natasha also shared that she’s been watching a CBS TV show called “Tough as Nails” recently. “One of the contestants was a young woman working as a labourer. She posed the question, “Why not me?” – so simple but profound. Sometimes you hold yourself back by not believing in your own power.” While we still have work to do as an industry on encouraging more women in the construction industry, Natasha posed a question back to us “Why not learn a highly transferrable skill or a valuable trade? Why not learn to work with your hands and build a career? Why not you?”

Encouraging women in construction doesn’t just stop with hiring, as an industry we need to invest in their careers! As an industry, we come together to recognize and support women choosing careers in construction by celebrating International Women’s Day and Women in Construction Week.

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