b'IBEW Canadian Womens Conference 2019, held at the Toronto Westin Airport Hotel.Women Empowerment Through UnionsECAO INTERVIEW WITH CHERYL PARON,INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, IBEW FIRST DISTRICTC ECAOcommunicationsexpanded on their diversity and inclusion outreach, CathyFrederickson, specialist, recently interviewed Cheryl Paron to getincluding the IBEW First District NextGen initiative her perspective on the challenges and opportunitiesand local union womens committees.faced by women in the electrical trade. While she admits that the percentage of women in the Paronwasalwaysinvolvedintheunionizedconstruction trades has not increased over the years movement,firstthroughherfamilybackgroundin Canada, she believes that one of the main reasons and later in her own career with Nav Canada as anthat women arent exposed or directed to careers in electronics technologist. It was there that she beganthe trades starts early in their education. Girls are becoming involved with IBEW Local 2228, wherenot encouraged to take shop in high school, but she took an interest in negotiations and later servedmaybe if our educational system changed, they could as a regional representative on their executive boardoffer a girls shop to expose them to working with and began networking with women in the tradestheir hands in an environment where they wouldnt and underrepresented roles. When she attended herfeel intimidated. It could show them that there are first union meeting with Local 2228, she was theoptions other than college and university.only female under 30 in attendance. But as she became more involvedParon also notes that girls dont see women on construction sites. with the union, she could see the possibility of promoting initiativesIf you dont see women in construction, you dont believe there is to get more women into under-represented roles and getting theman opportunity for you, she states. Paron also believes that this can connected with each other. change by building confidence in those women who are in the trades, In2017,ParonwasadelegateattheIBEWCanadian Womensso they can demonstrate that there are opportunities for women to Conference and, subsequently, organized the 2019 conference heldget into the trades. Women currently in the trade need to team up in Toronto, where 115 women attendedsignificantly higher thanwith other women to help them build their leadership skills and to attendance in 2017. The theme for the 2019 conference was Strongpromote their role in the industry. Women, Strong Canada, Strong IBEW. Paron will also be involvedWomen in construction are still an under-represented group, and in organizing the IBEW International Womens Conference, held thisParon was still surprised that, in 2020, some basic accommodations fall in Washington, D.C. likefemalewashroomaccessibilitywerenotavailabletofemale ParonjoinedtheIBEWFirstDistrictinDecember2018asanworkers. She is also very concerned about getting enhancements of International Representative responsible for a number of files thatbenefitsandworkaccommodationforwomenduringpregnancy. Ontario Electrical Contractor11'