When Anne Hatfield takes a vacation this fall, she is going with people who are in her line of work. It’s a tight-knit group that gets together every year to discuss their profession and enjoy each other’s company.
The group is meeting in the tiny, scenic community of Tofino on Vancouver Island this September. It’s the perfect spot for the International Sisterhood of Equipment Operators – a small group of female construction professionals who usually stand out on the job site.
“We mostly get together to get away and be around other women who have the same life experiences,” said Anne, who has been with Sundt for 7.5 years. “It’s kind of nice.”
Anne and her friends are accustomed to being the only female construction professionals on their projects. Their expertise working heavy equipment earns quick respect from their co-workers.
“I never had a problem fitting in,” she said. “Once I proved to them I could do what they were doing, they were always very accepting of me. I guess I was a novelty.”
Anne has worked on transportation projects in Arkansas, Arizona, California, New Mexico, North Dakota and Texas. Most of her work involves using equipment such as scrapers, loaders, bulldozers and backhoe, making her a valuable person to have around.
“I don’t remember having any down time,” Anne said.
Anne is working on our Ina Road/I-10 improvements in Tucson. She has been on the project for the past year, allowing her to spend time at her home in nearby Oracle.
“It’s been really nice to be home,” she said. “It’s good to be around family.”
Anne was a late bloomer in construction, getting started in her 30s. She was working nights at a rehab hospital when she decided it was time to make a radical career change. She was hired by a residential construction company in Phoenix as the housing boom sparked up.
“The company was training anyone who wanted to learn, because it was so short-handed,” Anne said.
Anne made her way to Sundt a few years later. While women on the site are still rare, they are getting more company all the time.
“I am seeing more female engineer interns during the summer,” Anne said. “It seems like more and more women are getting into the field.”
Anne is one of hundreds of women who work for Sundt Construction. This article is part of a series celebrating Women in Construction Week.
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