In celebration of International Women’s Day, we want to shine a spotlight on a group of women who are–quite literally–building the future of health care at BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre.
Every day, more than 800 construction workers are onsite–including approximately 50 women–building the new Teck Acute Care Centre (Teck ACC) at BC Children’s and BC Women’s. Over the past three years, they have played an integral role using thousands of tonnes of concrete, steel and drywall to transform this building from a dream and a design into a reality that now stands taller than any other building on the Oak Street campus and has permanently changed the landscape of these iconic hospitals.
While construction has traditionally been a male-dominated field, many women on this project are embracing the opportunities available in the trades and tearing down conventional walls as they physically build new ones.
From electricians and mechanical insulators to hoist operators and engineers, these women are making their mark on the new Teck ACC, and on the construction industry.
“I’m a skilled labourer,” says Brittany Jupp, “I started out doing concrete forming with my dad. I was the only girl on the crew. At first it was intimidating, but then I got used to it. In construction, each day is different and my work allows me to push myself every day, which I really like.”
It’s challenging work, but it’s also very rewarding. “If you’re willing to step out of the box, you can do anything in this industry,” comments hoist operator Shelly Ramsell. “There isn’t anything a woman could not do.”
The passion these women bring to the construction site is obvious and for many, helping to build the new hospital is giving them a tangible way to make a difference. “I’ve wanted to work on a hospital site since I started in this trade a decade ago,” says electrician Joanne Parry. “It’s a worthwhile project for the health of my community.”
Many other tradespeople have echoed this sentiment and they feel a sense of pride that their work will have an impact on staff, patients and families for decades to come. As safety manager Karen McRae says, at the end of the day, “It’s about the looks on the faces of the people who are going to use the building when they walk in. We’re building it for them.”