Young engineer Valentina Valent “lives” gender equality on construction site

The head of the construction site of the Sveti Petar Orehovec Elementary School sports hall believes that women should not be afraid to enter the world of construction

Clara Zetkin, Rosa Luxemburg, and many other women who fought for women’s rights and in memory of whose fight on March 8th are celebrated as International Women’s Day, would be proud of women like Valentina Valent. She is a young engineer, the head of a sports hall construction site that has been emerging near our school.

Valent “lives” gender equality for which Zetkin and many other women fought. She’s a job in the field where there’s still not a lot of women and works mostly among men. She is their superior, as Marinko Pasariček the manager of the construction site of the sports hall stated, and there is no problem with that. She’s perceived as an equal and they think she’s a good boss. We spoke to Valent yesterday and, among other things, found out what she says to young women who may be considering studying for construction professions.

Why and when did you decide to study civil engineering?

I inherited my love of construction from my father, who often built something at home. When something was being built in our household, I also participated. I’ve helped with concrete and similar jobs. I decided to study civil engineering somewhere in high school when I realized that I’m good at mathematics and physics. I completed geotechnical engineering at the Faculty of Geotechnical Engineering in 2014 and since then the fight for equality in the construction sector has started.

What did the parents say about your choice?

The parents weren’t aware of what I was going to decide and what direction I was going to choose engineering-wise.

How long have you been doing this job?

I have been working at RADNIK for 5 years, and before that, I had been training in the County Office for Urban Planning for a year on the legalization of facilities.

Immediately upon arrival at RADNIK, did you start working on the construction site?

When hiring, I was immediately asked if I saw myself on a construction site. But initially, for the first 10 months, I worked in the technical department on calculations. Then I expressed my wish to try to work on a construction site and I loved it.

What construction sites have you worked on so far?

My first construction site was in Koprivnica on the construction of a biomass boiler room. Then I worked on Lošinj island to build a shop with several apartments. I also worked on building a smaller hotel in Lošinj. I also led the construction of roads in the municipalities of Kalnik and Sveti Petar Orehovec. On the construction of a water tower in Sveti Ivan Žabno and on the construction of a kindergarten in Sveti Petar Orehovec. In the meantime, I passed the professional exam in mining, so I am also the head of the quarry in Vojnovec.

Do the workers wonder when they see their boss is a young woman?

When I got to the first construction site, some predicted I wouldn’t last a month. I didn’t find out about those forecasts until later. But when they met me and saw that there was no problem and that I was doing this job, there was no prejudice anymore. In our company in the positions of head of the construction site are three women and employees in companies are no longer amazed.  Sometimes when I go around construction sites and meet new workers of our subcontractors, I hear some comments and whistling, but there has never been any conflict. They see me as a superior and have respect, maybe sometimes more than male bosses.

Is it hard to do the job of head of a construction site?

I love doing it and I don’t see that job as hard, but it’s a big responsibility. A lot must be planned in detail, sometimes months in advance. I often prepare and plan a lot at home. Safety on the site is also very important. If something happens to the workers, that is my responsibility.

What would you say to young women who might be thinking about the construction professions?

We women can work in construction. Maybe just some jobs where more physical strength is necessary are not for us, but all other women can. I’ve also seen women working on cranes or driving trucks. I don’t think women should be afraid to enter the world of construction. There may have been prejudices once, but today they’re gone. We women are also accepted in this sector, where men once worked exclusively. /Laura Ivšak, 7a; photo:  Iva Trušček  and  S.L./

The original article is published in school digital newspaper KLINČEK.

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