Rock to Road

Features Roads & Paving
Women in Construction virtual event addresses barriers, celebrates successes

February 23, 2021  By Patrick Flannery

Nancy Chadwick, senior HSE director at Graham Construction, was one of the panelists who spoke during the Women in Construction virtual event on March 8.

You’ve heard this one before: an estimated 257,100 workers across Canada will retire in the next decade, roughly 22 percent of the country’s 2019 construction labour force, while only 227,600 workers will enter the workforce during that same period, according to BuildForce Canada. That’s a shortfall of nearly 30,000 workers across the country just to maintain the current pool of workers, not including any additional workers needed to support growth. Where can we look for the workers we will need going forward?

It’s a question with a few potential answers, but in 2019 there were 182,000 women in the construction sector out of a total work construction sector workforce of 1.463 million, according to the Daily Commercial News. Given women make up about half the population, that number is about a third of what you’d expect it to be.

Getting more women involved in the trades and construction has been a dream in the industry for a long time. The situation may be slowly improving, but a combination of factors continues to both create barriers to women who might be interested in the trades and to depress interest in the trades among young women.

Rock to Road, in conjunction with seven other Canadian construction trade publications, has joined in an initiative to try to tackle these issues from both ends. Introducing Women In Construction, a special online channel dedicated to celebrating the achievements of Canadian women in construction trades and business.


Anchored at the website, Women In Construction compiles profiles, news stories, videos, podcasts, feature articles and images to show the world, and women considering a career in the industry, what prominent women are doing in Canadian construction.

The first week of March will see exclusive rollouts of new content on the website and the social channels of the eight collaborating magazines, culminating in a special live online event March 8, International Women’s Day.

The March 8 event will include two interactive panel discussions: Driving Change in the Construction Industry, which will celebrate top women leaders in the field, and Solving Challenges Women Continue to Face in Construction, which will bring together women who are fighting to increase inclusivity for some brainstorming and problem-solving.

Register for free at

All are welcome to attend.

March 8 Agenda

Keynote – Building a better Canada: The power of diversity and inclusion in the construction industry

Mary Van Buren, president, Canadian Construction Association

The future growth of the construction industry will depend on its ability to attract, develop and retain women and other under-represented groups. Mary Van Buren will speak about the importance of inspiring the next generation of workers to join the multi-faceted field of construction. She will discuss what needs to happen to foster an inclusive construction industry and initiatives CCA has spearheaded to actively champion diversity.

Mary Van Buren is the president of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA). Mary is a proven leader with an exceptional track record in advancing member interests by introducing innovative world-class member services, promoting the value of the profession and advocating adoption of technology and standards to improve professionalism. She excels at creating and communicating a compelling vision combined with focusing on developing and empowering people to generate positive outcomes for members. An expert in marketing, communications, strategy and digital, she has worked in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and has held executive roles at leading associations and not-for-profits, including the Canadian Medical Association’s subsidiary, MD Financial Management, and Export Development Canada. In her previous role as vice-president of marketing and IT at the Canadian Real Estate Association, Mary led a team of 60 to grow its premier services, and WebForms into the double digits, collaborating with over 90 boards and associations across Canada, significantly generating member value and promoting the value of Realtors. In addition to her broad business experience and financial acumen, Mary holds an MBA in international business from McGill and a B.Com from the University of Ottawa, is bilingual and is a Certified Association Executive.

Panel: Driving Change in the Construction Industry

Marg Latham, P.Eng., CMC

Marg Latham is a professional engineer and certified management consultant. She is president of Aqua Libra Consulting, a management consulting firm. Since starting her business in 2010, she has helped public and private engineering organizations improve professional practice and quality management. From 2000 to 2009, Latham was a vice-president with consulting firms, UMA and AECOM where she implemented management systems to improve client delivery. She spent the first 20 years of her career managing institutional, residential and infrastructure projects in Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. In 2001, Marg was named ‘Outstanding Woman in Construction,’ an award co-presented by the Vancouver Regional Construction Association and Canadian Construction Women. In 2017, Marg was shortlisted for the Women in Infrastructure national award for ‘Outstanding Leader.’ In June 2019, she became chair of the Board of the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology (WinSETT) and actively volunteers her time to increase the number of women in science, engineering, trades and technology.

Stephanie Rota, CEO, Carmelin Design Build

Obtaining her MBA from the Schulich School of Business, Rota leans on this education in running the business today.  Her experience working for a real estate developer gave first-hand exposure to all aspects of a build. With a focus on customer experience, Rota ensures clients are informed and consulted on every aspect of the project. In the industry, Stephanie Rota is a contributing columnist for Canadian Contractor magazine and will be serving on the BILD Renovator Executive Council for 2021.

Panel: Solving Challenges Women Continue to Face in Construction

Jennifer Green, Skills Ontario

Jennifer Green has a history of breaking new ground and destroying stigmas. As a licensed industrial mechanic millwright, an apprenticeship youth advisor for the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and the director of competitions and young women’s initiatives at Skills Ontario, she is a mentor and advocate for the skilled trades and technologies. Green won Gold at the Skills Ontario Competition, the largest of its kind in Canada, in the industrial mechanic millwright contest, and she advanced to win Silver at the national level. Among her accolades, she has been presented with the WXN Top 100 Canada’s Most Powerful Women Award, the Guelph YW-YMCA Women of Distinction Award, and the Conestoga College Alumni of Distinction Award. Green has founded several initiatives, including the Skills Ontario Alumni Association as president, and the National Alumni Committee as Chair and the Ontario Lead. She continues to advocate for skilled trades and technologies through many programs and initiatives.

Nancy Chadwick, Senior HSE Director at Graham Construction

Nancy Chadwick founded her own HSE training company early in her career before moving to work with client, Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association (SCSA). During this time, she formed a relationship with Graham, eventually making the leap to joining Graham in 2007. She has held roles within the Mining and Energy sector as HSE Supervisor and later regional manager for Saskatchewan Industrial including Points Athabasca Contracting and Great Plains Contracting. Currently, Nancy is a Senior Director, HSE, responsible for the Infrastructure and Industrial West portfolio within Graham where she leads a team of 45 managers and HSE field coordinators. Nancy has always felt that participation in the safety community is essential to help grow the Graham brand. As a member of the Women in Occupational Health & Safety, Womentorship, SaskPolytechnic Occupational Health and Safety Practitioner Curriculum Advisory Committee, Canadian Society of Safety Engineers and the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association, Nancy continues to support industry growth with respect to HSE. The construction industry is supported by her recognition as the Safety Practitioner of the Year, SCSA.

Stephanie Hnatuk – Operations Manager, Prairie Crane

Stephanie Hnayuk joined Prairie Crane after completing an environmental engineering degree at the University of Regina. Stephanie began working at Prairie Crane shortly after high school. This involved office administration work and later led to working in the back shop fulfilling tasks such as delivering rigging and cleaning the shop. Following the completion of her degree, she decided to join the family at Prairie Crane working closely with her brother, Matthew, learning the equipment and organizing day-to-day operations. Since then, Stephanie has moved into an operations manager position, which has expanded her role while continuing to manage day-to-day operations.

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