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First female in Dunkirk DPW ‘proud’ of trailblazing position

Quinn Bankoski is the first female to ever work with the Dunkirk DPW.

Quinn Bankoski is the first female to be hired in Dunkirk for the Department of Public Works.

In an interview, Bankoski explained that she was not aware at first that she was the first female DPW employee in Dunkirk, and the news certainly came as a surprise.

“It does (surprise me),” she said. “I thought for sure another brave soul before me would’ve done this job. It is very tough, but I know many other females that would be more than capable of doing it alongside me.”

Bankoski also spoke of how much it means to her to be in the position. She put an emphasis on women being capable to do physical jobs like this and that women should not be treated differently than male coworkers.

“It means a lot to me. It makes me proud to be able to have the title of the first female to be full-time in the streets department. I even brag about it to some people because I think it’s so awesome,” she said. “People are always surprised to hear that I do, in fact, pick up garbage, do street paving, run sewer lines and so much more.”

She added: “People think that females can’t do a ‘man’s job’ and a lot of females don’t want to deal with people’s comments. I like to break the stereotypes and do jobs that are known as a ‘man’s job’ because I think females can do anything that a man can do. I want to be able to lead the way to show other females that they too can do this job. It’s not only for men.”

Bankoski receives a lot of encouragement and support from her co-workers and the community, and she hopes that this encourages other young women and girls to truly believe that they can do anything they set their mind to.

“It’s pretty fun when I’m on the back of the garbage truck and people in the community say, ‘Is that a girl? Get it girl, good for you.’ I want to be able to have other females look up to me and not be afraid of doing such a tough job,” she said.

Bankoski said her first couple of months of employment with the city have been great. However, it doesn’t mean it has been without challenges.

“You’re slinging trash bags in the back of the truck for six hours straight. You really have to mentally prepare your body for work like that,” she said. “If you’ve never done anything like that before it will really take a toll on you.”

Regarding her co-workers, Bankoski reported that they have been very supportive. “The guys are very respectful, but at the same time they don’t treat me any differently because of my gender and I really appreciate that. I don’t want special treatment because of my gender,” she said. “I signed up for the job and I should be able to do every aspect of it. Mike (her supervisor) has been really good at getting me experience in a lot of different jobs that we do and having me train on the different machines and equipment.”

Though her father is the highway superintendent for the village of Silver Creek, Bankoski explained that he didn’t have any part in her getting the job in Dunkirk, besides encouraging her to apply.

“My parents raised me to work hard and be tough, and that has really given me an advantage at my job,” she said. “He and my mom definitely shaped my work ethic and always pushed me to do my best at everything. I was also very successful in school and in athletics growing up because of this.”

Bankoski’s work ethic and qualifications were the main driver in her getting the position she holds now. She worked for the Chautauqua County DPW in the Sheridan branch for the past two summers, which offered a lot of hands-on work. They also gave her driving lessons which aided in her getting her CDL Class B license through driving school.

While there, she performed a lot of the same jobs that she now does with Dunkirk, which gave her more experience that made her stand out.

“Since I’ve come on we’ve tried to hire the best people we could,” Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas said. “She was the most qualified and the one who interviewed the best. She’s been doing an excellent job so far. There are women capable of doing jobs like these and she is one of them. I’m very proud to have been the mayor that brought her on board.”

Overall, Bankoski said she enjoys making a difference, encouraging women to go after any career they want, and making the community look nicer. When asked if she could ever see herself as the DPW superintendent, she said, “I would take the job in the future if it came down to it when I’m more qualified and know how to do all of the jobs, but for now I’ll leave it to the professionals.”

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