Powerlineman Profile: Serah Russell

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I'm a 21 year old trainee distribution line mechanic, half way through my apprenticeship, working for Unison in New Zealand. The company, which serves Hawke’s Bay, Taupo and Rotorua, is located on the North Island of the country.  I am one of four female linesman.

I studied electrical theory for 2 years and I worked at ABB for a year making UPSI (uninterrupted power supply systems) and Ring main units.

 I never knew what a lineman was until I got offered the job at Unison. I’ve got to say that I can't imagine what I'd be doing if not for this.

So, now I want to try and bring more exposure to women in the trades. My hope is that more women will be willing to give it a go and show that we are just as capable as anyone else.

I love my job for so many reasons. It has allowed me to travel all around the country and provided financial stability.  

People always ask what it's like to be a female in the trades; I think it's not so different from any other job. Of course there are barriers but there's going to be obstacles and barriers regardless of what gender you are.

The first few linesmen that I had met were either rugby players or they were twice the size of me. This can be intimidating because you feel like you don't meet the physical requirements.  In reality, you're just as good and deserve to be there just like everybody else.

The linesmen have all been very supportive and encouraging with my training. They have taken the time to make sure I was comfortable with the work, explaining and teaching me the way. Their help has made me who I am today.

Being a woman in the trades isn't as scary as I thought it was going to be. Everybody treats you as an equal and is willing to help wherever they can. I’ve learned so many different skills and have gained so much knowledge from these mechanics. 

Line work is a proud trade. I take pride in being a part of it, knowing that I had a small part to play in constructing some of the power lines and pedestals around my hometown. Most of these structures will be there even after I am retired. I can tell future generations that that is what I built. I put that there. And it will remain strong long after I am gone.

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