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Catching up with the world’s youngest female crane operator

clock 3 months ago

At the beginning of 2022, eighteen-year-old Kate Fahey became one of the world’s youngest licensed female crane operators, after finishing six months of training. We caught up with Kate to ask some questions about her work in the construction industry.

Q: How did you get into the construction industry?

A: I feel like it was pure coincidence, really. I came here on-site to work in office administration as a part-time job in the summer when I’d finished my leaving certification.

Then Paddy, my crane operator trainer, asked me to go on the crane one day. The lads were like, “she’s not going to make it up”, and they thought I had bitten off more than I could chew.

Q: What attracted you to crane operating?

A: When I got up here to the crane seat [for the first time], I’ll never forget the feeling of looking out across the Dublin skyline and just being like, “oh, my God. This is class.”

When I started driving, it just came so naturally to me. I just knew that it was something I wanted to do. So, I decided to take a year out of school. Then, I got my crane ticket and I haven’t looked back, really.

Q: What was the reception like?

A: At the start, I thought I would have no impact on people. I thought I’m just another person coming to work every day. But I know girls in local towns who have texted me and asked how you go about becoming a crane driver.

If I can help people to get into the industry at all… If I can guide them or give them advice, anything like that, I will. I’m more than happy to.

Q: What are your suggestions for getting more women into the industry?

A: The more women get into construction, the more women will follow.

I think it needs to start from schools-up. If you’re shown different careers that have women in them: women engineers, women electricians, then it can encourage females and show them that they can do it as well.

Q: What are the most surprising things about your work?

A: To be honest, I thought that the lads would be more like, “a female coming in here? We don’t want this at all.” Whereas they’re more like, “this is brilliant; fair play.” They’re really supportive, proud, and encouraging. That was a huge thing for me.

Something else that surprised me is how cranes can move in the wind! When you’re getting hit by winds that are up to 70 km/h, you can feel the cab move and you can see your jib weld. That’s just something you don’t think about when you’re on the ground looking up at a crane.

Q: What’s next for Kate?

A: I would love to go on a 70-metre crane, or something like that, even though I wouldn’t really like the climb up. I’d love to just have a go and see how it works.


Want to know more about women in the construction industry? Read the report here.

Do you want to share your experiences working in the trade with us? Get in touch.

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