“I hope there will be more women in the construction sector in the future, to make a stand and prove that we are here and we’re worth it”

Marina Gómez Borja decided last year to train in the construction sector after being unemployed. She is now one of the few women painters of metal structures in Galicia thanks to the Fundación Laboral

After several years in the forest-based sector, Marina Gómez decided to try her luck in the construction sector to achieve greater job stability. After being trained with the Fundación Laboral in a course of Painting and Shotblasting, her learning capacity and effort have made this 31-year-old Galician has not stopped working since she finished her training.

QUESTION.- How did you learn about the Painting and Shotblasting course? Why did you enroll in the course?

ANSWER.- I got to know the course through the Carballiño Consortium, where I live. At that moment, I was unemployed, and I was interested in the profession of painter. I had never worked in the sector before and I decided to enroll in the course to see what it was and to learn. After doing the internship course, I was called to work.

Q.- Did you ever hesitate to go into this sector because you are a woman?

A.- Yes, when I registered I had doubts, because the profession of painter sounds like something hard. But after doing the course and the internship, and seeing what it consisted of, I realized that this was not the case and that I was capable of doing the job.

Q.- What do you remember of your time in the course? Which module did you find most interesting?

A.- On the one hand, the practical part, because we could see how the machines worked and how the work was really going to be. On the other hand, I also liked the bridge crane course very much, because it was something I had never handled before and I had the opportunity to do it. At that time I looked nervous and untrained; it seemed very complicated to me.

Q.- How was the experience of doing your first internship in the sector?

A.- The first day, at the beginning of the internship, everything seemed very dangerous and mysterious to me. My colleagues told me that everything was dangerous so that I would take precautions. However, then you see that, with the right measures, you can do the job perfectly. I hadn’t painted or done anything like that in my life, and everything seemed very difficult to me. But the teachers were super attentive and everything was great.

Q.- What was your reaction on the first day of work?

A.- I was very surprised, because after the course you see that it is a job where there are only men. But I also felt very happy, and proud, because I was the only woman in the course who came to work in the company.

Q.- How did you imagine the world of painting when you enrolled in the course?

A.- In the beginning, since the course was about painting, I imagined that we were going to paint houses or walls. But, once there, you see that you have to blast, drip, sand… You see yourself doing everything and you think it’s impossible, but it can be done.

Q.- How did you find your job in the sector?

A.- In the course we were offered to start working with the company with which we did the internship. They kept our names and shortly after finishing the course they called us some students and we started working. Although in the course we were four girls, for the job, they only called me.

Q.- Have you had any problems integrating into work because you are a woman?

A.- Not at all, quite the opposite. My colleagues are wonderful people. I do the same job they do, without any discrimination. It’s quite the opposite: if they see that I can’t with some boat, they give me a hand. I haven’t had any kind of problem because I’m a woman, there haven’t been any bad comments or anything. Besides, I haven’t had any problems with my salary either. We are paid according to the category, as in any company. There is no distinction. If I have to climb on a scaffold and sand, I do it like any other worker.

Q.- What do you like most about your current job?

A.- I don’t care what task they send me; I don’t have preferences. In general I feel comfortable, I feel at home and I have some very good co-workers.

Q.- How do you manage to combine your work with family life?

A.- I don’t have any problem. During the time I am working, my children are at school. Also, if I need a medical appointment or anything else, I let the company know and that’s it.

Q.- Do you regret not having started working in the sector before?

A.- Before doing the course I was working in another sector. Once I was unemployed and the course was offered to me, I accepted it and it made me feel great, because later I stayed on to work. Now that we’re going to finish the job we’re working on, I hope that when a metal structure job comes out they’ll count on me again.

Q.- Are you thinking of continuing your training in the sector?

A.- The training in the company since I finished the painting course has been practically continuous: they teach us how to solve problems in metallic structures, we know more types of painting… In addition, if I am unemployed again, I plan to enrol in another course. I am very interested in welding. It attracts my attention because I don’t know how to weld and I would like to learn. In addition, I have seen that there are women welders in the construction industry and they work all year round. It would be a good way to have stability at work.

Q.- What do you think the role of women will be in the future of the sector?

A.- I hope that in the future things will change and that there will be more women in the sector to stand up and show that we are here and that we are worthwhile. I think that maybe we are the ones who have to give the push to move forward, because although I am a painter, I know that the same thing happens in other trades in the sector.

Q.- What would you say to a young girl who is considering entering the construction sector?

A.- That she has the confidence, that she tries to do things to see if she is capable or not. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. When I started the course, everything seemed very complicated to me and I thought it wasn’t going to work for this. They called me and I tried my luck. When I tried, I saw that I was capable and I said: – Why don’t I go and work on something I like, even if it’s a woman, if I can? If we don’t try, we won’t be able to work in this sector. I’m very proud of this step, because it’s a honor to start with a course and end up working. I’m very happy.

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