Pride in the Trades: Lisa Langevin

This week, Vancouver celebrates its Pride Week. In honour of this important annual event, ITA is sharing a series of features on trades professionals who represent the LGBTQ+ community.

She may not have set out to be an advocate for equity in trades careers, but Lisa Langevin’s life and career experiences set her on a path that meant she’s breaking down barriers for others.

As Industry Training Authority’s (ITA) Director of Equity and Engagement and a Red Seal electrician, Lisa’s dedicated to creating an environment where opportunity and advancement exist for everyone in the trades, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or any other factor, including orientation.

“As an electrician, I’m not sure anyone sets out to be an advocate,” says Lisa. “Part of me believed this society stereotype that most women don’t want to do this work and I bought into the rhetoric, that women need to fit into the industry. It took me a while before I realized all the extra barriers that exist for women in trades, and felt someone should do something about it.”

Lisa’s career in advocacy started while attending a Women Build Nations conference with over 1,000 other women, and realized the huge need to support others in the trades industry.

“With all that passion I realized that I’m not an anomaly- so many women I met loved their careers in the trades as much as I did.  Unfortunately, what’s stopping them is all the barriers in place so I became an advocate,” Lisa says. “I began to build the BC Tradeswomen Society, and that led me to sit on the Board of ITA to help ensure representation was there for women in trades. It was a positive move on the part of the new NDP government to ensure boards were representing the people they served. They also had two amazing Indigenous advocates appointed at the same time.  It was the first time the board of the ITA had representation from under represented groups.”

After serving on the Board, Lisa realized that she could contribute even more as a member of ITA’s leadership team. An important part of her role at ITA is creating an environment of self-awareness around unconscious bias, and recognizing the part everyone plays in creating an inclusive culture around trades training.              

Lisa has a unique perspective on barriers in trades professions as a female, Red Seal electrician who’s also a lesbian, and where much more work needs to happen to develop inclusivity that will extend to others in the LGBTQ+ community who are in trades careers.

“Some of the guys [on work sites] were less threatened by me than a straight woman – being a lesbian, in their mind at least, made me more like them,” Lisa explains. “There were jobs I was able to keep as a lesbian because if I was straight his wife or girlfriend would have been more upset. It provided me some privilege – being a woman trumped that, but it encouraged me to look at gay men or trans people and others, as on the whole they’re not accepted and barriers are in their way. It made me passionate to be an advocate for all. Equity in the trades tends to be a decade behind and it's time for us to get up to speed with the rest of the world.”

Want to start your career as an Electrician?

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!