“The first day of school I cried when I saw that I was the only woman and that nobody was talking to me; now I just want to work on this”

“The first day of school I cried when I saw that I was the only woman and that nobody was talking to me; now I just want to work on this”

Without knowing the sector, and being the only girl in her class, Miriam Turrientes obtained last year the Medium Degree of Excavation and Drilling Technician at the Training Centre in Huarte (Navarra). While she is training and working, she hopes to find a job to work on site.

At the age of 16, Miriam decided not to continue with her high school studies and started to train in the construction sector through the Medium Grade Excavation and Drilling Technician course at Fundación Laboral Centre in Huarte (Navarra). Without knowing the sector, and in spite of her initial fears, this young woman passed the Vocational Training cycle and seeks to find her place in the sector. To do so, she continues to train while looking for a job that will allow her to remain connected to the world of machinery.

QUESTION: How did you find out about Fundación Laboral intermediate level course?

ANSWER: I signed up to try. I didn’t see myself doing high school or college. I’m not a good student, and this machinery thing caught my attention. Then, a friend of mine in the village told me about this course and I thought about trying it. And I ended up liking it.

Q.- Did you hesitate at any time to launch yourself into this sector because you are a woman?

A.- Yes, of course I doubted. At the beginning it was something I didn’t care about, but I was scared when I arrived at the course and they told me I was the only girl at the Centre. That scared me a little.

Q.- How was your first day on the course?

A.- I started to cry. I arrived and nobody spoke to me, I saw everything as a man’s world. The first day I wanted to go home, I felt that they were looking at me like a freak. But I made room for myself and then everything went well, even though the first impression was very bad. Little by little we all became friends and finished the course very close. We still talk.

Q.- What did you find most interesting?

A.- I really liked working with the machines, carrying the excavators, learning about the engines… All that seemed super nice to me. It’s true that it was also the first time I drove, and the first day I was terrified to take the machine, and it still imposes respect to me, but I’m good at it.

Q.- What is the best thing that happened to you on the course?

A.- I have been marked by the experience of seeing that this is what I like and that now I just want to find a job in this field. Also the people I met there, we have a very good relationship.

Q.- Why do you think more girls are not encouraged to do this type of course?

A.- I believe that since childhood we are taught to dedicate ourselves to the same things. Then we all choose to be hairdressers, doctors… I think that from Primary School girls should be encouraged to do what they want, or at least be told that they can do the same as boys.

Q.- How did you imagine the construction sector before starting the course? Does it fit in with the idea you had?

A.- I imagined this full of forty years old men, and that I was going to last two days. I also expected it to be a little more difficult, I thought that it would be harder for me to get how the machines work, but then, with practice, there was no problem. Actually, in this profession it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. I’m even better at it than some guys. In fact, my teacher told me that maybe we are better at it because we are more delicate, it’s not about using brute force.

Q.- Have you ever thought about quitting the course?

A.- Many times, especially the days I struggled. When I got home I thought this wasn’t for me. Then, the next day, I would try and do it better. Now I have no regrets at all about doing this medium level degree and, if I could, I would do it again.

Q.- You also participated in the Erasmus+ program during your training. How was this experience?

A.- It was pretty good. I was in Vicenza, in Italy, and for two weeks we saw how they work in another place and we did many things: we were able to use the cranes, we visited a quarry, a Komatsu excavator factory… But I have to admit I missed home.

Q.- Did you do an internship in a company? How was the experience?

A.- I did an internship in two companies here. I was always scared, but it all worked out. They taught me a lot and treated me great. In one of them they wouldn’t let me get off the machine, and I was on the crane all day, so I learned a lot.

Q.- Didn’t you look for a job when you finished your studies?

A.- My intention at the end of the Middle Degree was to study the Higher Degree in Building and Civil Works but, after a year, I decided to leave it and go to work. The Higher Degree is totally different: you have to study, make plans… I thought it was not for me. I prefer machinery, being on the street, no matter it’s cold or hot.

Q.- Are you actively looking for work?

A.- I have been doing little jobs not related to construction, but now I want to dedicate myself to what I have studied. I have started to put down CVs in the companies in the area because all of my classmates but two have found a job. Now I am going to start a forklift operator course, as it is something that is related to what I like, to see if I am lucky. I want to work on the construction site.

Q.- Do you think there will be more and more women in the sector?

A.- I think it will still be difficult to have women in the sector, but in the future I do not rule it out. In my village there is a quarry and there are many women who are interested in working there. But it costs a bit because of the education we receive since we were children; we end up thinking that is not for us, until we try… I try to encourage my friends to try.

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

A.- I would tell her to try it without hesitation. If I can, she can. It is true that it seems a male sector, but not at all. Once you learn to do the job, you’re super comfortable.