Catalina Marimón began working in construction at the age of 40 as a crane operator. After several years of unemployment, she has returned to the labour market through the the employment online portal ‘Construyendo Empleo’of the Fundación Laboral de la Construcción
She was around 40 years old when Catalina Marimón Vallespir began her training in the construction sector. In 2006, Catalina found work as a crane operator in Mallorca through the Tower Crane Operator course given by the Fundación Laboral. In spite of staying away from the sector, during the years of crisis, her passion for work and the freedom she enjoys on a daily basis have led Catalina to return to the sector as a crane operator, thanks to the Portal “Construyendo empleo” (Buildong Employment). A job in which the good treatment received from her colleagues stands out.
QUESTION.- How did you find out about the Foundation’s “Tower Crane Operator” course? Why did you register for the course?
ANSWER.- It was a bit by chance, because when I finished the job I always did some language course, until I got tired of it. One day they told me about this course and I thought about signing up if it wasn’t a requirement that I be a man. They told me I could do it and I signed up.
Q.- Why did you think it was a course for men only?
A.- Because normally you have the idea that the construction works on site are more for men than for women. However, I knew that in the office it is something else, there are women assistants, site managers… In my case, as I grew up among boys, I was not afraid to work on site with men and I enrolled in the course.
Q.- Did you have any previous experience or relationship with the sector?
A.- No, my only experience with brickwork had been small things of walking around the house. In my life I had done a little bit of everything: I had worked in the fields with my parents, in the hotel industry or in restaurants, but never in construction.
Q.- Did you ever doubt whether to jump into this sector because you are a woman?
A.- Not at all. I understand that there are girls who are afraid of joining a world of men, because somehow you have to fight with them. But I grew up among men and I’ve always worked with them. It’s a thing that doesn’t frighten me, if I’m the only girl at work, I’m happy anyway.
Q.- What do you remember of your time in the course? Which module did you find most interesting?
A.- I finished happily; I liked it a lot. It was longer than I expected, because, in addition to the crane, we were taught masonry and other trades. I was the only girl in the course, but it was very good.
Q.- How did you find your first job in the sector?
A.- Everything came about through the Fundación Laboral. The first company I worked with called the Foundation to see the crane operators they had and they were interested in my profile. Then they contacted me and I joined the company.
Q.- Do you remember what your first day at work was like?
A.- I was very nervous. In the company there was another crane operator on the part of the workers who hardly let me touch the crane. But that lasted a week, then they gave me the command. They asked me: – Do you have courage? -, and I told them that I dared from day one, although I didn’t want them to give me a lot of energy from the beginning, I’ m a novice and the setting wasn’t done.
Q.- Have you worked in the sector since you finished the course?
A.- I worked in the sector until 2010, when there was a break here on the island (Mallorca). I have been stopped with the crane until last year, that I started with a company and I have been working in different places until now.
Q.- Why did you return to the crane operator’s job after the crisis?
A.- Because although I had other options, it is the crane operator I like the most. If I have to do something else, I will do it to subsist, but as long as I can work on something I like, I will always try to be in a job I enjoy.
Q.- How did you find your last job?
A.- Through the internet. They helped me from the Fundación Laboral, through their website ConstruyendoEmpleo, and from the Palma Centre they sent my accreditations to the project manager. The truth is that in this last company I am very happy.
Q.- What do you like most about your work as a crane operator?
A.- The freedom I have. This is a job in which, although it is subordinated to bosses, I am the one in charge of the crane. You can’t send me something when I don’t think it can be done. I have a lot of freedom with the crane.
Q.- How is it possible to combine your work with family life?
A.- Well, right now my husband works until the same time as me, and my son is already 21 years old, so great. When I started to work on the construction and the child was younger, I was combining with my grandmother. This type of work is better combined than when you are in another sector and have a split schedule, or work on weekends…
Q.- Have you found in this time more women working in the sector?
A.- No. In the company where my husband works, there was a woman who worked in the formwork or who tiled, but I have never found another woman on the site.
Q.- Why do you think women are not encouraged to work in the sector?
A.- I believe that women find it more difficult to enter a world of men. I didn’t have a hard time because I grew up with boys. I’m used to struggling with them. If they’re brutal, I’m more brutal. But it’s true that there are girls who find it difficult to integrate into a group of men.
Q.- Do you think you could have started working in the sector before?
A.- Yes, if I had seen that there were this kind of courses before, I think I would have done it.
Q.- Do you want to continue training in the sector?
A.- I’ve already tried to do a course on redesigning plans, but I was out and I couldn’t continue. Now I would like to do one on risk prevention, although I am also interested in machinery.
Q.- Have you found people who are surprised to see a crane woman?
A.– Yes, there are people who are still surprised to see me. It’s really foolish, because in the end you use a machine. It’s like when you get your car license and you don’t know how to drive, you have to roll. Everything is the practice you’ve taken, lose your fear of it, and you’ll do it as well or better than a man.
Q.- How do you think the construction sector has progressed in recent years?
A.- In Mallorca the sector has been growing for a couple of years back. Not only new constructions are made, but also works like the one we are doing in my company, such as rehabilitation.
Q.- And what do you think the evolution of the sector will be in the coming years?
A.- In Mallorca it seems that every day there are more people in the sector and more women are being encouraged, but it seems that they are more afraid to enter this world, partly because they say that construction is hard. I have worked in the countryside, and the countryside is also hard. It all depends: if you don’t try it, you don’t know it either. I came from the hotel industry and took the Foundation’s course. I wanted to try, I tried, and now I prefer to work with a crane than in a hotel.
Q.- What would you say to a young girl who is considering entering the construction sector?
A.- Don’t worry. That men don’t eat anyone, and that they are more respectful than you think.