Manitoba's first female backhoe owner has advice for other women: 'Just do it.'

Jacquie McDonald is a tiny woman. She's tough-as-nails and has bright pink hair. After a career in advertising she switched gears. She has become a force in one of the most male-dominated fields out there - construction.
Jacquie McDonald loves her job as a heavy equipment operator. (Kaj Hasselriis/CBC)

Jacquie McDonald is a tiny woman. She's tough-as-nails and has bright pink hair.

Sixteen years ago, McDonald had what she calls her "mid-life career crisis."

"I was in my mid-twenties, working at Athlete's Wear," she recalled. "Finally, I just said 'I can't do this anymore.' I decided I had to do something different."

"I wanted to run those big machines and I wanted to destroy buildings," she laughed.

Just another day at work for Jacquie McDonald. (J. McDonald)
So she got her resume together and she applied with construction companies. At first she was told that, as a woman, she couldn't work with heavy machinery. Three weeks later, she was running a street sweeper.

Another job became available but McDonald didn't own a backhoe. So she tracked one down, put her house up as collateral, and asked her dad to co-sign a loan to buy it.

"I handed over the cheque," she said. "I'm just shakin'. I'm in tears. So excited.... I see my machine there and I start it up."

Jacquie McDonald starts her first backhoe

7 years ago
Duration 0:22
Jacquie McDonald bought her first backhoe and was filmed starting it up for the first time.

"He comes back from the office with the rest of the paperwork," she recalled. "He says to me, 'Do you know you're the first woman in the province to own and operate your own backhoe? You should be proud.'"

"And I was," said McDonald. "I never looked at myself as a pioneer. I just looked at myself as crazy!"

Manitoba's first female back hoe owner has advice for other women

7 years ago
Duration 0:39
Jacquie McDonald gives advice to women