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Women In Industry – A View From The Top of the Tower Crane.

Women in Construction: A Q&A Session

Interviews & Writing by Jen Adams

Today we at Bigfoot are celebrating International Women’s Day and Women in Construction Week! This is a week to acknowledge and applaud the women of the industry who show up every day, demonstrating time and again their strong work ethic, capability, and grit (endurance/perseverance).

We sat down with Bigfoot’s own Sandra Allard and Jen Mutas to hear about their experiences working in the construction industry and their vision for its future. These women exemplify Bigfoot’s values of passion, innovation, precision, and care in their work, and we are privileged to spotlight them this week.

 Sandra Allard, Crane Technician

Q: What do you find the most motivating or exciting about working in the construction industry?

A: I’ve always loved the outdoors, and I’ve also always had a passion for heavy equipment. Working in the crane industry combines both my passions, and honestly, the view from my “office” is unbeatable.

Q: What has been the greatest challenge for you as a woman?

A: When I first started out in construction as a framer 12 years ago, there were never any women on sites. I would show up on site and get funny looks or comments here and there. Once I was able to work for a few hours, people realized that I knew what I was doing, and I quickly gained respect. I worked towards getting my tower crane ticket in 2015 by fighting tooth and nail to get seat time. A lot of crane owners and trade foreman wouldn’t let me go up in the crane to practice. Being a woman was my biggest setback because of the assumption I didn’t know how to operate heavy equipment. Eventually all the hard work paid off and in 2016 I became a fully certified tower crane operator. My passion for cranes led me to Bigfoot, where I am now a crane technician, learning to erect and dismantle cranes, as well as service and repair them.

Q: How has working at Bigfoot impacted your career?

A: Bigfoot took a chance on me when they hired me because I was the first female technician they have ever had, and first in the whole lower mainland I do believe. As you can imagine, the crane industry is a very physically demanding and high-risk job. I saw it as a great opportunity for myself, to prove that I could do anything asked of me, but also for Bigfoot, to open the door for other potential women technicians in the future. Bigfoot has given me all the opportunities to move up within the company and supplied me with the tools and guidance to do so with confidence. I work with some amazing senior technicians and I have no doubt that one day in the near future I will become one as well.

Q: What would you say to women who are considering starting careers in construction today?

A: Construction sites can be an intimidating place. A lot of personalities and egos can be involved on a daily basis. I think you need to have fairly thick skin and a good sense of humour if you’re going to succeed in this industry. You can’t let a few bad experiences with people deter you, because trust me, there will be battles you have to face. Just show up every day with a good attitude and a strong work ethic and you will earn the respect of your peers and coworkers.

Q: What would be your vision for the next generation of women in construction?

A: Oh, we’re going to take over! But really my vision for the next generation of women in construction is to simply just end the gender stigma that is attached to certain jobs. Most people assume when I’m in my high vis that I’m a flagger. No disrespect to flaggers, they have an incredibly hard and demanding job, but I get frustrated when people just assume that because I’m a woman. I just hope the next generation knows that they can literally do any job they want; the sky is the limit!

Jen Mutas, Safety and Service Coordinator

Q: What do you find the most motivating or exciting about working in the construction industry?

A: I’ve always loved construction and been fascinated with cranes. I love the challenge of this industry; there are always new things to think about and new problems to solve. Every day is different, it’s never a cookie-cutter desk job. I also love working with veterans of the industry, asking them what they’re doing and why they’re doing it that way. But mostly I love the pride of a finished job. Cranes are so necessary to construction, and it’s exciting to by a jobsite and see one of our cranes up. The feeling of completion from a job that’s come full circle is awesome.

Q: What has been the greatest challenge for you as a woman?

A: Honestly, my greatest challenge has been internal more than external. I’ve always been uneasy with failure, so I work hard to avoid it. People always assume that it must be really hard for me as a woman in construction, but I’m not the one paving the way. So many other amazing women have done that. Sure, there have been experiences as a woman that I would like to forget, but the good has by far outweighed the bad. So, I’ve always worked hard to do my job right, keeping the urge to go above and beyond to prove that I can do this job.

Q: How has working at Bigfoot impacted your career?

A: Cranes have always piqued my interest. I started working in general contracting, and so it’s really nice to have a more focused career in one specific area that I’m really passionate about. It’s also been really great to learn the more technical and mechanical side of the job and understand how things actually work. Being at Bigfoot has been great because I work with such amazing people. This is a high-pressure job. If a crane goes down for a day or two it can have huge consequences. So, working to solve these problems alongside people who have great attitudes makes it a lot easier, because we can work as a team to solve them.

Q: What would you say to women who are considering starting careers in construction today?

A: Just do it. Every job has challenges that you can’t get away from. In construction, people might assume you can’t do things because you’re a woman, but women have advantages in this industry too. Don’t be afraid to try it. Give it a shot. There is so much room to move around, and so much potential. You can do whatever you want. You might start as a flagger, but you don’t have to stay there if you don’t want to. Work hard, and you can do anything.

Q: What would be your vision for the next generation of women in construction?

A: For this to just not be an issue anymore. You should be valued for your worth on the job. We shouldn’t say, “Oh, she’s really good for a girl,” we should be saying, “she’s really good,” period. And we’re getting closer to that. But the wage gap is still a brutal issue at some places. I haven’t had any problems at Bigfoot, but I used to work with a guy who was less qualified than me, and he got paid $3,000 more a year. So, I guess I would say fairness for all, so that we can stop talking about this and just work hard.

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Bigfoot Crane Company
2170 Carpenter Street
Abbotsford, BC V2T 6B4

Toll free: 1-877-852-2192
Local: (604) 854-3218
Fax: (604) 854-5716
Email: [email protected]


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