Fashion diva to digger driver: Pretty brunette defies stereotypes to work on building site
A FORMER fashion designer quits glamorous career to drive heavy machinery – and she’s better at it than her male colleagues.
Mo Duncan started her construction career five years ago and can now “operate the machines with her eyes closed”.
The savvy 23-year-old, who used to work in the fashion world, had to overcome initial preconceptions of women on building sites. But now the attractive heavy machines operator claims her male colleagues are as “bitchy” as the girls Mo said: “Working in construction is much less stressful than fashion. I get to smash things now. My boyfriend thought I was joking when we first met and I told him that I was a digger driver. A lot of the guys are very surprised when I show up. I don’t think they expect me. At first it was quite daunting because the guys would always be wary of me to start with and make fun of me, but as soon as they know how good I am at the job then they are more accepting of me. I’m better than them at quite a few things because I take a bit more care with what I’m doing. I could operate these machines with my eyes closed.”
She is the only girl working at her family’s company, where she navigates different diggers, dumpers and forklifts. Mo, who still sees fashion as a hobby, is now back at Ayr College studying construction management and hopes to be running the show one day. “I get to smash things now.” She said: “You’ve got to have a strong backbone to put up with some of the chat. There is definitely a bit of a lad culture in place which can be a bit overwhelming. You’re trying to please them and keep the job as well as not give them any cheek back which can be difficult since they can be really, really cheeky. Sometimes I’ll get chatted up, but I think they’re a bit too scared to try nowadays. I should say the boys are just as bitchy as the girls, A few of them are more likely to confront each other when they have a problem but quite a few will come over to me and have a bitch about the other guys.
But Mo does sometimes struggle with her all-male environment. “Sometimes I do miss having girls around me since you can’t really unwind and go for cocktails after work with the guys,” she said. “It would be great if more girls came into the business.”
Mo’s mum, Margaret Duncan, 52, company director of RS Duncan Planthire in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, added: “She has a natural ability for this which runs in the family. “She’s a highly skilled and conscientious worker who likes to do the job thoroughly and properly. She could go on to be the third generation in charge of the company.”
Mo studied fashion design at Ayr College for two years after leaving Auchinleck Academy, Cumnock, at the age of 16. But she found potential fashion jobs would mean having to move too far away from her home and family. She swapped fabrics and textiles for diggers and dumpers after she was offered an apprenticeship at her dad’s building firm.