Skip to content
Women in Construction

Celebrating Women in Construction

Women in Construction

It's National Women in Construction Week this week (March 6-12). As a company with many female employees, we celebrate the unique perspective and contribution women bring to the workplace. Whether in the office or on the job site, they bring much-needed balance to our workforce.

In recognition of this week, we interviewed one of our Estimators, Alison Moffatt - a true pioneer in the skilled trades - about her experiences working in the construction field.

Alison Moffatt, Estimator

What does an Estimator do?

An estimator builds the foundation of any project through reading all documentation, blueprints, and specifications to ensure we capture all that is required for our portion of the project. We take all this information and assign the appropriate material and labour components that are required.

As an estimator, my day is spent working on tenders (projects) and I could have a few in various stages of the "take-off" (building of the estimate). I review all the blueprints and enter the material/labour into our estimating software. I send out pricing requests to our supplier, and sub-contractors as required. The day we "close a tender" (send our final price to the customer) can be hectic as we are receiving the different prices and need to determine which one we will include in our quotation. Usually, there is a specific day and time that we must submit our price, so we have to work to meet that deadline.

Each day is different as each project is different and I have learned many different things over the years. I've met interesting people and have been a part of creating something unique. At one point during my career, I worked in a Honda plant and learned how a car is built from start to finish.

How did you get interested in the electrical trade?

My dad is an electrician and I grew up helping him with work around the house; seemed a natural path for a career. After completing my apprenticeship and working in the field, I moved into the office and have worked in project management and estimating since 1987.

What do you like most about your job?

I love this industry for the diversity it offers and the growth it allows for both men and women.

How often have you encountered women in the industry? How has that changed?

I was the first female electrician in Hamilton when I started in the first year of my apprenticeship in the 80s. I worked with only one other female - a hydraulic installer. It was many years before I encountered any other women, but I have since met them in all aspects of the construction industry.

What were some of the challenges you faced as a woman in the industry?

Finding a washroom to use! When I started, women were not in the industry, so there were no women's washrooms. Most of the time I would use the men's washroom and even though I was fine with it, some of the men were not.

At the beginning of my career, it was a challenge to be accepted. However, I found that I didn't require others' acceptance - I was comfortable with myself and it was their issue, not mine. That is probably the best thing this career path has taught me: it does not matter what others think of me.

How much change have you seen regarding women in the skilled trades?

What I have noticed is there are more women entering the construction industry, not only in the field but in the office as estimators and project managers. I like to think that women are less intimidated to get into the trades, which is fantastic.

The industry and those who work in it are much more accepting and accommodating of women now, and appreciate what we can bring to the table. In the 80s when I started, many did not trust that I knew my job. Others would question my abilities and knowledge. Now, acceptance is increasing and it is becoming about finding the best person for the job, not whether you are female or male.

Memorable Project?

I have worked on many interesting projects throughout my career, but one that is unique and noteworthy is the Tim Horton's Stadium in Hamilton. This project was my first encounter with BIM - 3D project imagery software. BIM allows interferences to be noted and corrected prior to construction.

As we were coming to the completion of this stadium, we worked around the Hamilton Tiger Cats' football schedule and were able to witness some of their practices. I may be one of the few women who actually has been in the Tiger-Cats' locker room!