Canada’s trade careers are known for being mostly male-dominated, but Alanna Marklund, guided by her own experience, is helping diversify them.

Alanna Marklund has a passion for empowering others in the trades: especially other women.

“It’s been the same demographic in the trades for so long,” she says. “If we want to keep up with the times and really embrace diversity in the workplace we also have to embrace a diverse leadership.”

As the National Manager of Youth, Diversity and Indigenous Relations for UA Canada Marklund’s job is to engage youth, women and underrepresented groups with the trades.

Marklund’s start with the trades came in 2012 as a welding apprentice. By 2015 she was the first woman to ever make it to the UA international apprentice competition where she won an award for excellence and leadership. She also received her Red Seal journeyman ticket that year.

In her new role with UA Canada Marklund is able to help others achieve firsts in their industry.

“I’m very proud to have taken on this role because I feel I can make a difference.”

Changing the workplace

Marklund says recruiting women in the workplace and giving them the chance to lead is how things will change in her industry. She says one of the biggest benefits of having female leaders is the diversity of opinions they bring to the table. In addition, she adds, they become advocates and mentors to other women.

“Only a woman truly knows what it’s like to be a woman in the trades,” she says.

Marklund says one of the biggest challenges they face is having to go the extra mile to prove themselves and challenge preconceptions.

“As a woman coming in you’re looked at longer to see if you know exactly what you’re doing,” she says. “You almost have to prove your work before it’s noticed, whereas if you’re a man in the trades, you might not get that.”

Seize every opportunity

Marklund’s advice to women who are passionate about their trade and the culture is simple.

“Step up and apply for positions,” she says. “You’ve got to take that opportunity. You show women that you can climb that ladder.”

Marklund says that there are opportunities within unions to run for elected officer positions or sit on committees.

“I never imagined my trade would bring me to where I am today, but by keeping an open mind, a strong work ethic, and letting my work speak for itself, I have come farther than I would have ever imagined.”