International Women's Day Series: Amy Carr

As a woman in a trades profession, she’s seen lots of positive change in eight years – such as being taken seriously by other trades and their foremen, far more support on site – but there’s much more still needed.

It was when Amy Carr was busy doing renovations around her house that the idea of pursuing a career in trades struck her - right about the same time her hammer struck wood.

“I thought, ‘this is fun!’ and decided to take the Industry Training Authority Women in Trades Explorer program,” says Amy. “I knew I wanted to do sheet metal, metal fabrication or welding.”

Previously studying social work, Amy describes herself as a late bloomer to trades. She fell in love with metal, with the reward of taking the flat sheets and turning them into anything needed or wanted was both challenging and impressive to her.

 Her first job in sheet metal was in 2012, and she’s worked on a number of rewarding projects over the years in Victoria, where she was born and raised, including the Tapestry building, Boom and Batten restaurant, the Empress Hotel, and the Hudson Market.

“I sound like that 60-year-old dad who drives down the road and says, ‘I did that, I built that,’” laughs Amy. “But once the project is completed it’s so rewarding.”

While her career started with the hands-on work needed to develop her skills and reputation, over the years she’s had opportunities to shift and progress, obtained her Red Seal in 2018, and is now being trained to be a junior foreman.

As a woman in a trades profession, she’s seen lots of positive change in eight years – such as being taken seriously by other trades and their foremen, far more support on site – but there’s much more still needed.

“What needs to change is employers need to unlock their doors and let more women in,” says Amy. “Employers still look at a name on a resume and assume ‘she’ can’t do the work. Women have to put a ‘male’ name on the resume and they get the interview that way. People should stop being shocked that women can do this work; I knew one foreman whose wife didn’t like him working with other women. We’re not there to date foremen, we’re there to be one.”

While women are gaining more allies on construction job sites, she says that having a good mentor and support system can be critical for women. Tradeswomen need someone to help teach and support them, whether male or female, Amy insists.

Some of the biggest support she’s had on site were her union brothers and allies, she says, and appreciates everyone who is a true ally.

“Those who never question your ability because of your gender is huge,” Amy says. “I think the more we bring the men into this and give them pats on the back, because it’s so new for them, the better it will be for everyone.”

As only one of two women working in sheet metal in her union when she joined, it was the one thing she wishes she had been given during her apprenticeship. She herself now makes a point to connect together other women in her union and network so that they have the support she could have used.

In fact, Amy herself is stepping up to bring other women as they launch their trades careers.

“I know when I was going through my apprenticeship that I wished there was a female I could talk to, that I could feel comfortable asking questions of; I never thought I’d see the day when I’d have a female apprentice and I do now and it’s so cool.”

While Amy started her trades career with a hands on profession that she loves, she’s starting to look ahead to the next steps in her career, possibly with her union, with the BC Centre for Women in the Trades or the ITA.

“The possibilities are endless once you learn this stuff. I’d like to use my voice to advocate in some way, either for union or Women in the trades.”

Want to start your career as a Sheet Metal Worker?

Do you know an apprentice or employer champion?

The Champions of Apprenticeship are recognized for their outstanding achievements in BC apprenticeship system. These Champions are celebrated for their hard work in creating certified tradesworkers, supporting their industry and promoting apprenticeship. Do you know an outstanding employer sponsor or apprentice? Send us an email and nominate them to become a Champion of Apprenticeship!