“I started working alone because men gave me a hard time” – female electrician

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

By: Alva Solomon

Being a female in the male- dominated profession of electricals can be a challenge, but for Susan Matthews Rodrigues, it’s a walk in the park, mainly because of her love for the field.

Rodrigues is an electrician by profession, and she has been in the field for almost two decades. The mother of two daughters told Guyana Times in a recent interview that her interest in electricals dates back to her ancestors, including her great-grandfather, a Portuguese migrant who had come to Guyana from Cape Verde. “He helped to put down the electrical grid in Berbice,” she said.

In addition, she said some of her father’s relatives were in the field, and as such, she was determined to follow in their footsteps.

She said although she had been in the field prior, she decided to qualify herself by enrolling in an electrical programme at the Guyana Industrial Training Centre (GITC) in 2006. She completed the training after one year of study. She said that, at the time, she was one of only two females in the class.

“Our teacher was miss Paula Fraser,” Rodrigues recalled, and she noted that she attended mainly evening classes at the time. She said too that, like most training courses, the studies entailed mastering both the theoretical and practical aspects of electricity.

Fast forward to 2022 and Rodrigues is actively progressing in the field. She said her knowledge in the field progressed immensely over the years. She said she mainly undertakes domestic installation jobs which entail wiring an entire house, as well as trouble -shooting tasks whenever a problem arises with the electrical system of a client.

Rodrigues said she undertakes the job with patience, and she noted that she has completed jobs in and around Georgetown and also a few out-of-town jobs. Interestingly, she said she works alone, and there is a reason for this. “I started working alone because men gave me a hard time. They would not hire me. I even wanted to do auto electrical and was told they do not teach women,” she said. But this does not stop her.

She said that she continues to do her research, and every day she learns something new about the field. She also said that safety is one of her greatest assets in the field.

Over the years, Rodrigues has wired countless dwellings, and sometimes it can take a week, sometimes two, or more, depending on the size of the house. But the ambitious woman noted that her toughest challenge came about at Linden, when an overseas-based couple wanted their house wired.

She said the clients were returning Guyanese and they wanted their entire house wired. Rodrigues was up to the task, but she didn’t expect the job to pose such a challenge. She said the clients imported all their materials, and the cables they brought were American made. “It is a stiffer type of cable,” she said.

Rodrigues said the installation included configuring a whopping 35 electrical outlets at the house. But she was up to the task, although it took her a week to complete.

Rodrigues is not your everyday woman. She said she was raised by her mom, who worked hard. “I grew up without a father or step-father,” she said.

Rodrigues also raised her daughters on her own, after separating from their father. “I am a strong woman,” she said. She said this Christmas Eve she will be a little past her mid-50s and she has much more to offer to the field.

In her spare time, she does ballroom dancing, and many may have seen her unique moves at ballroom halls in the city. She also has a love for karaoke singing, and is an ardent cricketer.