Kate Fahey, the first woman in Ireland ever to be a licensed crane operator, reveals that it is not always easy being a woman in a male-dominated industry.
"There have been times where new lads have started on site and it’s like they’ve never seen a crane before with how much they stare," the 19-year-old Galway native recently told Caters News Agency.
"When I was working in Dublin, I came down to meet the delivery driver who looked shocked to see me and constantly asked if I was the banksman and if I was qualified.
"I brushed it off as you have to have a backbone."
Fahey, who had originally planned to go into medicine after college, said she first worked on a construction site as a summer job on her father's site, which made her realize it was a career she wanted to pursue full-time. She later received her qualifications in 2021 and has been working on-site ever since.
Fahey recalled how she was warned that she would have a panic attack the first time that she operated a crane 130 ft above the ground but said she "wasn't even nervous" about the height.
"Truth be told I hadn’t even thought about it, I was just nervous about learning a new role but once I got up there and saw the view I was blown away. I’ve loved it ever since."
Although she has experienced some sexism on-site, Fahey said she loves the "craic and banter" associated with the job and encouraged any woman interested in construction to pursue a career.
"I love it, and you get to work with so many unique people," she told Caters.
"To anyone, girls and boys, if you truly have an interest in construction then I’d always urge you to go for it."
She further said she has received messages from several people who have told her that they are inspired by her career choice.
“People say it’s inspirational but I don’t see any difference in me or one of the lads doing the work," the Galway woman told Construction Magazine last year.
"But if it does help another young woman to take the step and get into the industry then I’m only happy to help in that."
You can learn more about crane operator Fahey in this mini-documentary from "On The Tools:"