Women in construction

Today, on International Women’s Day, we would like to introduce some of our rising stars in the industry who are the epitome of the theme for 2022, which is #BreakTheBias. This week is also Scottish Apprenticeship Week and Women in Construction Week so here at the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) we will be showcasing our talented young women to inspire other girls to follow in their footsteps.

Fiona Scott

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Fiona operates tracked excavators during the week for Tom Grant Plant and then also operates RRVs and rail bugs for Story Plant at the weekends. She loves her job, especially the variety and being outside. She also finds it extremely rewarding.

When asked what it is like being a woman in the construction industry, Fiona says: “I personally have found it to be great, I’ve had a lot of support from people I’ve met on site. I would advise any young woman considering a career in this industry to just go for it! You have nothing to lose and remember that university or college isn’t for everyone. This is an amazing industry!”

Fiona’s career highlight to date has been working at the South Kyle wind farm for nine weeks last summer.

Thinking about her ambitions for the future, Fiona adds: “I want to keep expanding my knowledge and add different attachments on to my training, and hopefully inspire more girls to join the industry!”

Check Fiona out on TikTok!

Regan Falconer

Regan Falconer 2.jpgRegan works for GFSS Ltd in Inverness where her job involves all aspects of civil engineering from operating plant; to installing drainage; concreting; kerbing; and cable tracks. Like Fiona, Regan loves working outdoors and she also loves the fact that she gets to work all over the country doing different types of work.

Regan’s boss is also her dad who has made a concerted effort to treat her in exactly the same way as her male counterparts, as Regan puts it: “Being a girl in the construction industry is maybe different for other people, but as I work for my dad, I get treated the same as everyone else. If anything, I get asked to do even more than the boys!

“For young girls thinking about this industry my advice would be to get into it at a young age when leaving school. Although it can be hard to get started on plant with no experience, I think it is a really exciting career. Anybody, male or female, has the potential to earn more than many other popular professions so it is definitely worth thinking about.”

For Regan, making that transition from school, where she used to try and work weekends and nights, to working full-time was a real milestone. Since working full-time, a career highlight has been getting her tickets for the Articulated Dump Truck, 360 Excavator and Roller not long after she turned 16 and using them on site since then.

Regan is brimming with ambition: “I really want to help get other people into plant operating. One of the biggest challenges I see is gaining competence and accreditation and helping those young people who don’t have any existing connections to the industry such as a family business, to get hands-on experience as early as possible.

“I plan to work really hard and learn everything that I can so that one day I can take over the family business.”

Eleanor Macmillan-Currie

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Another young woman who was inspired by her father to join the construction industry is Eleanor Macmillan-Currie who works for the family business W&M Currie & Son on the Isle of Islay.

Eleanor has a varied role which includes operating diggers to level out areas as well as working down at a beach building up sand that is hauled to businesses. She also batches concrete which is poured all around the island for construction projects including a brand new whisky distillery that is currently being built. Eleanor also throws herself into manual work and works on the barley boat to discharge the barley which can then be turned into malt and sent to the distilleries.

There is a lot that Eleanor loves about her job and the fact that she is outdoors and hands-on is something she has in common with Regan and Fiona.

Eleanor is frank about being a woman in the construction industry and offers some good advice: “Sometimes it is hard. Where I work I am both the only girl and smaller and not as physically strong as my male counterparts. But because I am determined and enthusiastic about work, and a good team player, I get things done.

“For other girls thinking about a job in construction, I’d say make sure that you put your emotions aside and have a good backbone! In a male-oriented industry, men can be quite brutal, and some do still have fixed opinions about women in construction. Never listen to them! Keep your head up and show them that women can do anything men can.”

A career highlight for Eleanor has been attending the CITB National Construction College in Bircham Newton where she met so many different people and had great teachers. She succeeded in getting all her tickets for machinery and became a plant operator.

Eleanor has her sights set on the top, aiming to take over the family business. Well on her way on her career path, the next step for Eleanor is taking the Transport Manager exam so she can take up this role in the family business. She also plans on getting her HGV licence this year as well.

Mo Duncan

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Mo has been operating heavy equipment, excavators, skid steers, haul trucks, forklifts and 3cxs for over a decade and has enjoyed working in Scotland and Australia in her career to date. This has given her the opportunity to learn the different ways both countries work and the different sizes of jobs plant operators can be involved in from small projects to multi-billion-dollar projects. Mo is about to head back to Australia later this month where she is self-employed.

Known as The Wee Lassie Operator on Instagram, Mo is already doing her bit to attract women into the industry through her social media presence where she has a following of over 28,000 on Instagram.

Mo is passionate about her job and loves the versatility that gets her involved in civil construction, mining, roads and infrastructure, basement excavations and tunnelling.

She is positive about being a woman in construction: “The industry is so much more supportive than it used to be and encourages both sexes. Now gender is less relevant, as long as you get the work done and can do your job well, it doesn’t matter. For anyone looking to get into the industry I’d say go for it and give it a try!”

Her ambition is to have her own machine in Australia as well as Scotland and to continue enjoying life. For Mo, the construction industry is a career for her life and she is absolutely determined to make the most of every opportunity.

She is determined to make the most of the opportunities in the industry where there will always be career opportunities.

Charlie MacGregor

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Charlie is an apprentice plant mechanic at the CITB National Construction College at Inchinnan and works for Geo-Rope. She enjoys the fact that she can learn so many different things every day about how different plant functions and relishes the challenge of finding solutions to faults with items of plant.

On being a woman in the construction industry, Charlie has this to say: “Being a woman has allowed me to demonstrate that both men and women can achieve the same goals on a work site. My time in the construction industry has been positive and it’s been good to see the acceptance of women on site. I have been given the same opportunities as my co-workers which helps me work towards my end goal.”

Charlie has had many career highlights but the one that stands out is being successful in the HIAB operators course which allowed her to expand her knowledge and add more value to the team on site.

Her ambition for the future is not only to be a fully qualified mechanic but to own her own plant as well.

For other young women looking to start a career in this industry, Charlie’s advice is: “If you enjoy your job, be confident and never give up on making your end goal a reality.”

Join in the conversation

Join in the conversation online and share your photos on social media using the hashtag #BreakTheBias. If you are inspired by Regan, Fiona, Eleanor, Mo and Charlie, and want to find out more about a career in construction, contact the SPOA on info@spoa.org.uk.

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