When Sarah Laverty first started out as a plant operator in the civil construction industry, some of her male colleagues were doubtful of her skills.
Working in the field has not been without its challenges, but Ms Laverty said young women should give it a go.
"A few of the blokes that I used to work for and that were a bit hesitant because I was a woman," Ms Laverty told the Daily Liberal.
"Until you can show them what you can do ... they got a lot better."
She remembers one occasion when she attended a fire with her excavator and the people on the scene asked her when the plant operator was arriving.
"Then you show them what you can do and they're highly surprised," Ms Laverty said.
These days, Ms Laverty is a concrete batcher, driver and all-rounder at Redimix concrete plant in Dubbo. She is in charge of driver orders, phone calls, scheduling, and making sure there are enough raw materials for the job at hand.
She said some of the skills required on the job include having patience, being able to think on your feet, and driving experience. She also tries to be organised - however she admits that doesn't always work.
Redimix is owned by Maas Group Holdings and having a foot in the door there opens up a lot of opportunities at other areas of the business.
"If you are willing to learn and have a go and ask the question if you're not too sure, you can't go wrong. There's never a stupid question, only the question that hasn't been asked," Ms Laverty said.
In fact, some bosses prefer to hire females because they believe they don't cause as much wear and tear on the machinery, she said.
However, whenever she did experience push back in the past, she just smiled and showed them what she could do.
"I've been lucky working with Redimix, I don't see much of this at all. They all know when starting a job here your supervisor is a woman. If I have trouble with any if this my boss steps in," Ms Laverty said.
Ms Laverty became a full time plant operator when she finished Year 10, then began a different career driving an agitator and delivering concrete. She started with her current employer in 2021 and has moved up the ranks since then.
She likes the job because "you're always going to new places and doing something different every day".
The best part of her day was seeing how many metres she has concreted, and thinking about how she is helping "make Dubbo a better and bigger place".
The worst part is when the machinery breaks down.
"A breakdown in the middle of a pour is just hectic. Depending on the problem it might be a quick fix or it could be something major. Regular maintenance helps with this through," she said.
She also values the career progression on offer: "With the job that I have now you can just keep going up and up ... you're not stuck just doing one thing. If you wanted to say, go drive like a truck and dog [towing truck] or something, that opportunity is open to you."
Ms Laverty will be speaking at the Women in Trades civil careers forum at the Dubbo RSL Club on Tuesday, November 28.
She will be presenting on her career and encouraging female school leavers to give her industry a go.
Her message to the young women in attendance will be: "Go ahead and do it, you won't know what you can do until you try, but you'll probably surprise yourself."
- Find out more about the women in trades civil construction careers expo at ccfnsw.com/wit