The origins of the Women In Trades organization came out of a September 1979 meeting where women from several government agencies and educational groups met to come up with a strategy to help women already working in trades or as a starting point for women interested in entering non-traditional occupations. It was evident to the women at this meeting that there were problems with women in trade feeling isolated and not having a support group to discuss issues with. In spring 1980, a working committee was planning the founding meeting of Women In Trades association. This was held in June 1980.
Founding members of the group are Nancy Bayly and Jenny Stimac. There were always a small group but were committed to the cause. Mary Addison served as co-ordinator of the organization throughout the 1980s. Women In Trade helped women from both an educational and political perspective to make sure they received the guidance they needed. They were able to direct women to different training programs and also encourage them to act politically. There were workshops on how to lobby the government and speaking out publicly and also to attend rallies.
The central focus of the organization was to promote women in trade performing non-traditional work. This was an ongoing process. It involved convincing federal and provincial decision makers and labour unionists of the viability of women working in trades. They had to continually work at strengthening the relationship between tradeswomen, unions and employers. The membership of the group had a broad base. Women In Trade was open to women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and also disabled tradeswomen. To be eligible for membership a women had to: work with her hands, belong to a particular skilled trade and paid hourly doing work with machines. Funding was always a challenge for this organization and they had to be constantly looking for sources of money. They looked to several different Ontario programs for assistance.