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Wed Jan 25, 2023, 02:25 PM

Girl power: Colombia's first female electrical line workers train to keep the lights on

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Two of the apprentices on the female training programme in La Ceja learn how to repair power lines. All photographs: Soraya Kishtwari
Girl power: Colombia’s first female electrical line workers train to keep the lights on

The work is challenging and demands long spells away from home, but the country’s only line school for women is changing attitudes in a male-dominated field. Marianela Hernández Valencia knows what life without electricity is like. “As a child, I grew up in a house without electricity, which meant having to do homework by candlelight,” she says. “It was difficult.” Today, the 28-year-old is among 15 women hoping to graduate as one of Colombia’s first-ever intake of apprentice linewomen, in La Ceja, a small town about 40km southeast of Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city.

Line workers scale towers and transmission lines hundreds of feet above the ground to install and repair power cables. They are often the first responders after a storm or natural disaster and are regularly away from home for long periods.
The group of first apprentice linewomen prepare for training in La Ceja, a small town about 40km southeast of Medellín


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Kitted out with belts and safety harnesses, the first apprentice linewomen gather around the teachers for a motivational talk before training

Graduates of the year-long pilot project, led by ISA, Latin America’s largest energy transmission company, with the training group Tener Futuro Corporation, are guaranteed a job with one of two contractors, Instelec and Salomón Durán. Students are taught about safety, rigging and knot tying, all in a hands-on environment.

As more companies seek to diversify the workplace, it may seem there has never been a better time for women to enter the trade. Yet, few consider applying. The organisers of the scheme aim to change that by targeting the apprenticeships solely at women and providing a safe space for them to learn. A week after the call went out for female applicants, 723 had registered interest.
A trainee fixes a porcelain insulator in place, in order to prevent live wires from coming into contact with each other or the utility pole.


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A trainee fixes a porcelain insulator in place, to prevent live wires from coming into contact with each other or the utility pole. A line worker typically carries between 9-13.5kg (20-30lbs) on their belt

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Apprentices during their training. At the end of the course all graduates are guaranteed a job
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Two months into the training, most students have conquered their fear of heights, but the art of moving along a cable takes time to master
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Mother of two Diana Lizeth Lizarazo Moreno and Jessica Osorio, 23, who suspended her studies in biotechnology


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La Ceja’s high altitude, combined with scaling tens of metres and carrying heavy equipment, can sometimes lead to dizzy spells among the apprentices.
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With a month left before the first stage of the training, just 15 of the original 30 women remain. “A number of candidates failed the medical test. Once we selected the final 30, a combination of factors all played a part, from suddenly being faced with the reality of having to leave your home and family – in many cases, children – to struggling with logistics and childcare, as well as self-doubt and dealing with other people’s opinions. It’s been a learning curve,” says Laguna. But the sector is committed to opening itself up to women, with three cohorts of 20 women planned for 2023, she says. “Ultimately, it’s about creating a virtuous chain, and the belief is that by supporting these women now, you help establish the foundations for creating sustainable value moving forward.”

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/dec/30/colombia-first-female-electrical-line-workers

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Reply Girl power: Colombia's first female electrical line workers train to keep the lights on (Original post)
niyad Jan 25 OP
Judi Lynn Jan 25 #1
niyad Jan 26 #2

Response to niyad (Original post)

Wed Jan 25, 2023, 06:13 PM

1. OMG. Have never heard of any woman having that job. Unbelievable!

It's out away from every familiar landmark, too, with no one to quickly respond if you need help.

Even the image of the woman learning on the line about 36 inches above the ground is scary to me!

How I admire the attitudes of the couple of trainees interviewed. Very, very cool!

I hope the salaries they will be making is completely worth the horrendous challenge!

There probably aren't so very many men who would be willing to attempt this field at all.

Thanks, niyad. You've given us something we'll really be thinking about for some time to come.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 26, 2023, 08:35 AM

2. You are most welcome. I am shocked that I came across something new to

you, as you always have such incredible i formation. There is no way I could have done a job like that for any amount of money!

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