Women and Machines

By Toromont Cat
March 07, 2023
3 minute read

The place for women is everywhere they want to go. Many fields that were once the preserve of men are becoming increasingly accessible to women, and those women who have entered these fields have a powerful message to convey: Go for it, if you have the passion, whether you’re a man or woman, it will make you happy and you’ll succeed.

They love the diesel engine roar and the yellow iron belly. They work with heavy machinery every day. Erin and Annie are mechanics at Toromont Cat and ply their trade on all kinds of Caterpillar machines. Celine is a heavy equipment operator at a mine in Nunavut. We met with them to learn what it’s like to be a woman working with heavy equipment.

Getting their hands dirty!

Erin component rebuilderErin Robinson, a component technician, is new to heavy equipment at Toromont. She started out in aviation before making the transition during the pandemic. Inspired by her father, also a mechanic, she has fond memories of watching him on the shop floor. That’s all it took for her to follow in his footsteps!

What she likes most about her job:

“I learn new things every day and it makes me want to come to work every morning!”

Her advice if you’re interested in the trade:

“I didn’t think I could be a mechanic, and yet I just had to jump in and give it a try. If you’re interested, you should at least try it!

It’s a mostly male environment, so you have to develop a bit of a skin and expect all kinds of comments, but you can’t let that stop you. It’s a super rewarding profession.”


Annie heavy equipment techAnnie Robichaud, a heavy equipment shop technician, has worked in the trade for 12 years now! She started out as a technician at Hewitt in the Truck Division that became Toromont Cat, she made the transition to heavy equipment over the past few years. At first she studied natural sciences, and it was an ad in the newspaper for a training program that gave her the idea of going into mechanics. She said to herself why not, so she took the plunge, loved it and has never looked back!

What she likes most about her job:

“I like to go the extra mile. I like challenges and doing a good job, and this is a trade that lets me do that.”

Her advice if the trade interests you:

“Go for it! It can be intimidating or a little scary, but give it a try if it’s calling out to you. Yes, you’ll be working mostly with guys and you’ll sometimes be the centre of attention without wanting to be, but don’t let that stop you. Also, there are always people along the way who are there to support us.”


Driving giants with finesse

In general, there are still far more men working in mining than women, but the number of women venturing into this field has risen sharply over the past decade. There’s even a trend of women becoming operators of the world’s biggest trucks: mining trucks. They’ve even become highly regarded. Their skill and attention to detail make them excellent operators who, according to many foremen, make a difference in terms of efficiency of operations and durability of the machines.


Céline heavy equipment operatorCéline Beauséjour has worked as a heavy equipment operator for nine years. She began her career in forestry, then did a stint in construction before jumping into the world of mining. A counsellor at Service Canada pointed her toward the profession, and for that she’s extremely grateful!

“I’ve always had an affinity for anything with a motor. It speaks to me and I quickly understand how it works, so it’s the perfect job for me!”

In her experience, it’s harder for a woman to fit in and get hired in construction. More openings are available in forestry and mining.

“There was one mining contractor who gave me a chance and hired me to operate machinery at the Meliadine mine in Nunavut, I love it. I work on different machines; excavators, loaders, trucks, bulldozers, graders... I just started working underground there. I’m learning plenty of things and it’s super stimulating.”

What she likes most about her job:

“I just love being inside a machine. Also, there’s always something to learn, something to improve on, new machines, new tasks or techniques, challenges...I love challenges.”


Her advice if you’re interested in the job:

“Go for it! I want to see more women working with me! Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues for advice so you can learn, and practice a lot. You get good by practicing – you have to put in the hours! People will look at you differently. You’ll hear and be the target of many jokes that are more or less funny. Don’t let that stop you. There are also plenty of women in the industry and we stick together, we help each other out. Also, it’s such a stimulating and satisfying career!”


yellow-arrowThe bottom line:

Follow your passion, no matter where it takes you. Naturally, if it’s around Caterpillar machines, that’s even better ;-)

Facinated by women working with heavy machinery? Have a look at our interview with a heavy equipment rental specialist.

Read more

About Company
Toromont Cat

Toromont Cat is your Cat Dealer in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nunavut. We are dedicated to supplying and servicing new and used equipment, delivering a superior customer experience and exceptional product support to the markets we serve.