Opeyemi Adeyemi is one of only two female line workers at the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) in Lagos, Nigeria. Although she studied electrical engineering in college, she had no idea that she would one day become a line worker.
“Growing up, I knew I wanted a career where I could be very hands on and that was why I studied electrical engineering at university. I was always the only female in my lecture classes, but I never had a problem with that.”
After graduation, Opeyemi heard about a year-long line worker training put on by EKEDC and she applied for the position.
“The training I received was fantastic and very practical. I had studied electrical engineering at university, however my classes had been very theoretical with very little real-world experience. The training that was offered by EKEDC was the major preparation that equipped me for this job.”
Upon completion of the training, Opeyemi graduated top of her class and was immediately offered a full-time position as a line worker at EKEDC.
“When you choose to study engineering in Nigeria, you are aware that you are probably going to be the only female in your class. I have always been used to this and I am very comfortable with the situation. The important aspect to note is that I know I am as qualified as my male counterparts. Therefore, I do not feel odd when working mostly with men.”
“Most people are pleasantly surprised and commend me for choosing this career path. However, there are a few others, like some of my family members, who do not think that a woman should climb poles and wear men’s clothing.”
Opeyemi’s story represents the culmination of one of the many successes of EKEDC’s participation in the USAID-funded and Power Africa-supported Engendering Utilities program. Engendering Utilities seeks to enhance gender equality in the power and water sectors through interventions that effectively increase the role of women in male-dominated industries. Following an expansion in 2019, Engendering Utilities now works directly with 17 utilities in 14 countries.
When asked what she loves most about her job, Opeyemi responds, “I love the uniform we wear; the hard hats and the boots. It’s very unique. Once I put on my work gear, I feel very confident and powerful. I like the fact that I don’t have to worry about buying dresses or numerous shoes for work.”
“My advice for aspiring female line workers is to be very proactive and confident. This line of work is still very male dominated, so if you want to learn, do not sit back. Ask questions and don’t be lazy because this job is not for the faint of heart.”