Women in Construction 2024: Taylor Lemon


A noisy white and orange, eight-foot-tall piece of construction equipment moves across a semi-frozen grassy patch on the City of Madison’s west side. On one side of the guard rail, chaos of the busy morning commute of vehicles cruising past on the Beltline, on the other side, inside the noisy skid steer, sits City of Madison Engineering Division Operator Taylor Lemon, calm as can be. 

“Day to day – mainly I’m in the skid loader—that’s what I mainly operate,” Lemon said. 

While Lemon makes it look easy, operating big machinery equipment is not. 

“Don’t hit a water line, don’t hit a gas line, paying attention to where everything is actually marked and where you need to be – not going off six feet the other way,” Lemon said. 

For anyone who may not be familiar, to be a good operator, it takes training, experience, a specific skill set, hand-eye coordination and understanding of the machine.  

“The biggest thing is paying attention—there are so many moving parts, not just on the machine, but around you, people working around you, people in another piece of equipment, people driving by who are not paying attention no matter how many cones or signs you have up, arrow boards – there’s always something to look for,” Lemon said.

From frozen ground to soft fresh grass in Cottage Grove, Wis., Lemon learned how to move in a powerful machine since she was young. 

“When I was a kid, it was ATVs, snowmobiles, tractors, and even half the time they couldn’t get me off the lawn mower because it was something I could move around that wasn’t a bicycle,” Lemon said. 

Always on the move, Lemon said she has always known working in construction is where she wants to be. 

“I tried to do sit down office, and that is not my jam,” Lemon said. “You cannot stick me inside—that is a bit of a problem for me. But I’ve done a lot.”

Snow plowing, asphalt and mill working on road crews and running dump trucks, you name the machine, Lemon knows how to operate it. 

ENG Taylor Lemon

Getting her Commercial Driver’s License was the start of her career in the construction industry and operating big equipment. 

“I used to be a quad driver—a quad axel dump truck driver. That’s where I got my CDL and that’s really where I got introduced into the construction world and just seeing how everything works, and how things are built,” Lemon said. 

A lot has changed since Lemon started. She remembers things like locker rooms weren’t an option for women at one point in her career in previous positions, a contrast to now working at the City of Madison.

“The City [of Madison] here is my first blue collar job where I haven’t been the only woman—so that was a change for me,” Lemon said. “My last job before this, doing garbage truck, they had to do a makeshift locker room for me—never had built one. It wasn’t even a thought or a possibility. There are definitely things I've had to adapt to.” 

Adapting to the environment is key to being a great operator.

“There are situations like today where I’m in the grass, where I have to be very gentle with movements or I’ll bury myself and dig a hole—which is different than being in the roadway,” Lemon said. 

Whether she’s cutting fresh grass growing up learning how to operate a lawnmower, or keeping calm next to the busy Beltline while operating big machinery on frozen ground, advancing her skills and contributing to her community are also two things that Lemon said is why she likes working for the City in construction and hopes others may consider a career path in construction, too. 

“I like to contribute to my community, that’s a big deal for me,” Lemon said. “It makes me feel like I'm doing something substantial that it’s helping other people in their everyday life.” 

The City of Madison is highlighting the work of five women during National

 Women in Construction Week March 3-9, 2024

Women in Construction Week Banner 2024
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