Construction sector: is it really a man's world?

Published on 18 June 2023 - 2 reading minute(s)

The construction industry has traditionally been a male-dominated sector, characterised by its lack of female role models. According to a survey carried out by Eurostat(1), in the third quarter of 2021 women made up only 10% of European workers in the construction industry and 13% in the mining and quarrying sector.

However, with a growing increase in the focus on diversity and gender equality, new female talent is entering the market.

Here Marie Bergersen, rock blaster at Ottar Bergersen & Sons AS, a leading machine contractor in Norway, talks about how she got involved in the construction industry and explains her role in this thriving sector.


portrait marie bergersen

Marie Bergersen, rock blaster at Ottar Bergersen & Sons AS


Motivated by mining and quarrying early on

Marie started working on a part-time basis for this family business, founded by her grandfather in 2002, when she was 14. She helped with simple tasks such as cleaning and organising the schedule for the staff.

The first time I accompanied my grandfather on one of his blasting projects, I knew straight away that this was what I wanted to do as a career.” explains Marie.

As part of her studies, Marie did a two-year internship with the company and then received a certificate, enabling her to work in the mining and quarrying business. Shortly afterwards she passed another exam, qualifying her to work as a rock blaster.

A day in the life of a rock blaster

A typical day for Marie starts at 7.30am when she heads to the blasting site to carry out an assessment of the zone. This could be a mountainous area where all the potential risks need to be taken into consideration. The blasting leader then confirms the plans and the organisational aspects of the assignment. The next stage involves getting the machines ready and removing any gravel from the stones. When this has been done, Marie can start drilling.

The next phase involves going to the explosives warehouse and collecting all the material required to ensure the assignment is carried out safely and efficiently. The work is physically challenging as one case of dynamite weighs 25 kilos and a drill can weigh up to 60 kilos.

Once all the material has been set up in the right place, the area is evacuated, and Marie can start blasting. Once she has finished, she carries out a safety check up of the area and then cleans up and gets the machines ready for the next assignment. In addition to working with blasting machines, Marie also drives tractors, front end loaders and other types of machinery. She knows perfectly how important is the choice of a relevant tyre in her activity, particularly tough for the tread, due to damage and road hazards probability.


“I love being outdoors and working with other people. Sometimes the weather conditions are harsh, but it’s much more fun than sitting in front of a computer all day.”

The value added by women in construction

What women bring to construction industry and have to work harder than men to prove themselves. Nevertheless, more and more women today are opting for professional training in order to obtain the certification required to work in the construction field.

Marie believes that women have a lot to offer the sector. She says that “Women are usually much better than men when it comes to the maintenance of the machines and equipment as they pay attention to all the small details and carefully document the work carried out.“

The image of construction industry is evolving towards a more diverse one, this is encouraging young women to consider a career in construction. The sector will benefit from this diversity, as women can bring soft skills such as communication, conflict management and positive thinking. All of this is leading to better communication, less conflict and a much more positive working environment.


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