I'm a teenage female crane operator – my male co-workers stare at me

I’m a teenage crane operator – male co-workers stare at me and underestimate me, but I have proved them wrong

  • Kate Fahey, 19, from County Galway, spends days 130ft in air as crane operator
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A nineteen-year-old female crane operator has been loving life on the construction site as she towers above her male peers.

Kate Fahey, 19, a crane operator from County Galway, never planned to go into construction, but after working on her father’s site one summer, she decided against going to college and chose an unlikely career as a crane operator.

Whilst working at the company, Kate became friends with the crane operator at the time and began to learn the tricks of the trade.

She passed her qualifications in 2021 and got sucked into site life. But she admitted that she has struggled with being undermined and stared at by male colleagues. 

She now shares advice with both teenage boys and girls who want to get into the trade. 

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Kate Fahey, 19, works as a crane operator from County Galway and loves it, but admits settling in the male-dominated industry has not all been plain sailing

Sitting at 130ft never phased her as she passed her qualifications in 2021 to become Ireland’s youngest female crane operator. 

Kate has shared her experience as a woman working 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,’ she said. 

‘It can be tough, not only being the only female on site but also being the youngest, people tend to undermine me,’ she added. 

The crane operator admitted she has also had men stare at her when she works, and that others have questioned her skills. 

‘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 because you have to have a backbone,’ she said. 

‘To anyone, girls and boys, if you truly have an interest in construction then I’d always urge you to go for it,’ she advised.  

‘My favourite thing about the job is the craic and the banter that have on-site. I love it, and you get to work with so many unique people,’ she added. 

The 19-year-old has admitted that some of the men she works with underestimate her because of her gender and her age 

Kate is not phased by the heights and spends 10h of her days 130ft in the air. She got her qualification in 2021

The crane operator said she’s proved men who have underestimated her wrong, and now provides advice to both boys and girls who want to go into construction 

But Kate has also admitted that banter can also take a toll, and that people should only go in the business if they are passionate about the job. 

‘There are days when the banter will get to you and if you don’t have a love for the job you won’t last,’ she said. 

The crane operator recounted her first day on the job. 

‘The first time I climbed up the ladder for the crane, all the lads were saying how I was underestimating it and that I’ll have a panic attack when I get too high up.

Reaching new heights! Pictured: Kate and her dad, who also works in construction, on top of a crane together 

Kate said she loves the banter on site, but that you need a strong love for the job to make it in the construction business 

After working a summer job with his father on a construction site, Kate decided she wouldn’t attend college and qualify for crane operator instead 

‘I 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.’

Kate admitted she was always interested in working in construction, but didn’t plan to go into it.  

‘Before I was due to start college, I was working with my dad as a summer job and when the time to go to college eventually came around, I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do more than work on site,’ she said. 

And she’s now helping to provide advice for both teenage boys and girls who wish to follow into her footsteps. 

‘I received messages about my career, from girls and guys, because becoming a crane operator isn’t something that has a clear pathway like university or an apprenticeship, you sort of just fall into it as I did,’ she said. 

‘I’ve not heard back from all of them but I know two are now qualified so it’s lovely to feel like I’ve inspired some people.’

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