Local woman changing face of construction

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All-female construction crew in the works

St. Albert businesswoman Robyne Garton is hoping to change the face of the male-dominated construction industry.

With her philosophy of “anything boys can do, girls can do just as good or better,” she is putting together an all-female construction crew.

Pink Belts Ltd. is expected to be fully operational by spring 2013.

“I want women to be noticed out in the industry. A lot of them [aren’t] and I’m one of them,” Garton said. “I’m still plowing my way through that, but nothing stops me.”

She has been surrounded by the construction industry for the last 23 years while working in property management. She stepped into construction last summer when starting Tip Your Glass Hat, a local roofing company that employs mostly men.

About the same time that company started, she said she knew she wanted to start something that would fully utilize the talents of skilled tradeswomen.

The Pink Belts crew will start off with residential roofing projects, although Garton said she hopes the business will attract a variety of women trained to perform a broader scope of tasks.

“It’s tough being a female in the construction industry,” she said. “I’m just looking for women who have some sort of experience and want to heighten their horizons in the industry.”

Garton said she has received positive feedback from females already in construction and about half a dozen have expressed interest in joining her crew.

“There’s a lot of great women out there who just don’t get recognized and it’s a shame,” she said.

Garton said women seeking employment in construction have a harder time finding work and when they do, it is usually a lower-level position compared to their male counterparts.

She said she hopes the concept of Pink Belts allows women to make a living in the industry and it catches on elsewhere to help bring more gender balance to the construction industry.

“I’m just giving the construction industry a little bit of a rattle,” Garton said. “I just want to see it burn like fire across the country where all these women are popping up.”

According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 Labour Force Survey, women made up 12.9 per cent of the construction industry equaling more than 27,000 jobs.

Women interested in joining Pink Belts can call Garton at 780-932-8766.

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