Women Moving Barriers
Career Opportunities Jenny Dow and Heather Sanford share their experiences as heavy equipment operators.
Meet Jenny Dow
She’s a crane operator at Mammoet, and telling people what she does for a living often gets an interesting rise out of people.
“I’m a pretty tiny female and I run big equipment and a lot of people think it’s pretty surprising to see you in the crane,” says Dow, who’s worked in the industry for six years. “You get some interesting reactions.”
“It makes you stronger,” she says. “It gives you a sense of independence, you make really good money and it’s nice to support yourself.”
But Dow doesn’t mind, in fact she loves the idea of her non-traditional job. “It makes you stronger,” she says. “It gives you a sense of independence, you make really good money and it’s nice to support yourself.”
She admits that the hours can be long and it does take a good sense of humour to work in a male-dominated industry but she loves her job. “I was the first licensed female crane operator in New Brunswick,” says Dow, who grew up and got her start there.
It wasn’t until she got to Fort MacMurray in Alberta that she saw another female crane operator. “When I came out west there were more females,” says Dow. As for advice – “You need a good personality because you do work with men but you learn something new every day.”
Meet Heather Sanford
She’s spent the past 15 years opera- ting cranes and by some accounts is the first female Red Seal crane operator in Canada.
“People say that but I don’t how they know that,” says Sanford, a crane operator with Mammoet, chuckling.
She’s no stranger to attention, having been interviewed several times for her choice of non-traditional employment. “I’ve become pretty respected,” says Sanford.
But it’s not about respect for Sanford, she likes the camaraderie and the idea of working to build something from the ground up. “I feel pretty proud when I see male or female working together,” says Sanford adding that her presence sometimes calms arguments on-site. She also finds herself acting as a mentor to colleagues.
“Sometimes the guys feel more comfortable asking you something that they wouldn’t ask another man for fear of being judged,” says Sanford.
But the crane operator says she’d like to see more women taking on non-traditional jobs. “I think that nobody should be held back,” she says. “It’s okay to go into something non-traditional... there’s so many choices people should open their minds more and not be afraid to try new things.”