The Importance of Women in Trades Leadership

2022 Supporting Women in Trades Conference

A unique opportunity to learn, share and connect with apprentices and skilled trades workers who identify as women, their champions and community allies.

Break Out Session – June 3 2022

Hosted By: EVNL’s Erica Strong

Panelists: Mary Shortall, Ashley Yetman, Dr. Deatra Walsh,
Mallary McGrath & Minister Krista Lynn Howell

Five phenomenal women spoke about to the similarities, connections and intersections between women in trades and women in politics. Why? Because we need more women in trades, we need more women in politics, and we need more trades women in politics and leadership positions.

More similar than you think

The barriers we face look similar as well. On top of women making 66 cents on the male dollar in our province, we see the same kinds of sexism and nepotism on the campaign trail and in office.

Notably, Women in trades do not always receive the same advancement opportunities as their male colleagues. Similarly, in politics, women who run are often put in non-stronghold districts by their party– meaning parties often put male candidates in the ridings where the party has a better chance of winning, and then put women in riding areas where the party is less likely to win.

Another one of note – There’s a lack of child and elder care support which makes it more difficult for women in trades to work longer or unconventional hours, do rotations or go away for Block Training. Similarly, in politics, there’s no support or way to expense child or elder care when running, so without an informal support system, it can be pretty hard to run a campaign, if you’re also a caregiver.

And these are just to name a few! But with proper planning, a solid support network, and belief that you already have everything within you to make a difference in the world, we continue to work towards more equitable conditions for all.

In order to do this, we need to be at the tables where decisions are being made.

When Politics & Trades Intersect

Minister Sarah Stoodley

Mount Scio’s Liberal MHA Sarah Stoodley gave birth in 2020 and brought forward legislative change to allow for people to bring babies to work, starting on the House of Assembly floor. She has also worked towards creating more access to items needed to bring children to work throughout government, like adding change tables to places like Dept of Transportation and Works.

Former Premier, Kathy Dunderdale

Before becoming NL’s first womanPremier, Kathy Dunderdale was on the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women,. During that time, a local report came out about the Hibernia project – less than 4% of its’ workforce were women and less than 1% were in leadership positions.

As Kathy put it, “This giant economic engine that had been running the province for years basically shut out women. So we decided, as a group of 12 women, to do something about it. We worked together, successfully applied  for 3.5 million dollars in funding, and then partnered with College of the North Atlantic to create a Women in Trades and Technology Intro course. Thousands of women have gone through, and still exists today.”

Then, as the first woman to ever be Minister of Natural Resources, Kathy was the lead negotiator on the province’s next big project- Hebron. She formed the first contract in the province, the country, and possibly in the world, to have a gender and diversity clause – something that is now a standard practice amongst oil and gas organizations, internationally.

Former MHA Gerry Rogers

In 2017, former NDP MHA Gerry Rogers introduced a private member’s bill asking government to develop legislation on pay equity, which was approved unanimously. We hope to see more strides in this area soon and are thankful to Gerry for getting that ball rolling.

Meet Our Panelists

Mary Shortall

Mary Shortall was first elected President of the NL Federation of Labour in 2013 and represents 70,000 union members in more than 25 affiliated unions, across all parts of the province and in every sector of the economy. 

In March 2021, Mary was named one of the top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business by the Atlantic Business magazine. Mary also ran as a candidate for NDP in the 2021 Federal election. 

Ashley Yetman

Ashley Yetman is a post-secondary student, graduating from the Electrical Engineering Technology – Power Controls Program at College of the North Atlantic. A lifelong resident of Bay Roberts, Ashley currently resides in St. John’s while attending college!

Ashley grew up watching her father partake in municipal politics, currently serving as Mayor of Bay Roberts. Ashley recently completed CNA and MNL’s Municipal Leadership certification program and understands the importance and connection between women in trades, and women in politics.

Dr. Deatra Walsh

Dr. Deatra Walsh’s career stretches across employment in post-secondary, government and now, non-governmental sectors. She worked with the Government of Nunavut for several years, a leader in Labour Market Programming and Poverty Reduction. She has held teaching and postdoctoral research positions at many Universities across Canada and Internationally.

Deatra conducts research on aging populations, environmental change, labour mobility, homelessness and popular culture. She has had a long history of working and researching with rural communities in Canada, and she is currently the Director of Advocacy and Communications at Municipalities NL.

Mallary McGrath

Mallory has been on Branch Municipal Council for over ten years and has worked on several important infrastructure related projects. Branch’s Municipal Council has been an all-woman council for several terms. During that time, she also gained a Bachelor of Social Work and became the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood in St. John’s which broadened her understanding of gender roles, stereotypes, advocacy and community.

Mallary is passionate about community made, local media and is the current Interim Director of a grassroots non-profit call RyaKuga (Rye-uh-koo-guh). In 2020, Mallary represented Atlantic Canada and was invited to contribute her insights at the United Nations’ 64th Session of the Commission of the Status of Women.

Minister Krista Lynn Howell

A nurse by trade, MHA Krista Lynn Howell is the province’s current Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, representing the district of St. Barbe – L’Anse Aux Meadows. Community leadership, especially focused on youth, is where Minister Howell found her passion for being the voice of her community.

Elected to the Municipal Council of Saint Anthony in a by-election in 2015, Krista Lynn Howell went on to become the Deputy Mayor in 2017, and then became the first ever woman Mayor of Saint Anthony in 2019 until becoming elected to provincial government in 2021.