In Tianjin, Women Prove They Can Handle Power

ByYang Cheng May 17, 2024

Women engineers working at State Grid are defying traditional roles

In Tianjin, Women Prove They Can Handle Power
Liu Ruiying works on ultra-high-voltage direct current transmission lines in Tianjin. [China Daily]


Dozens of meters above the ground, a woman adorned in a heavy, custom-made metal shielding suit is hard at work, with arcs of electricity flickering at her fingertips and the crackling sound of current lingering in her ears.

From below, the engineer resembles a nimble dancer, gracefully navigating between the pylons and power lines.

This is a typical workday for 32-year-old Liu Ruiying, a liveline maintenance engineer at the State Grid Tianjin Electric Power Grid Company.

Liu earned her qualification for live-line work on ultra-high-voltage direct current transmission lines in 2019, making her the first woman in China in the industry to do so.

Her accomplishments, alongside those of other women engineers, have challenged traditional perceptions of what women are capable of.

In Tianjin, women engineers are proving to be just as capable and dedicated as their male counterparts, particularly those born after 2000.

Last year, two of the company's teams comprising women engineers achieved national-level recognition, while seven individuals received national-level awards, including accolades such as the May 1 and March 8 role model awards — honors granted to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to society.

The May 1 award honors laborers, in celebration of China's Labor Day holiday, while the March 8 award honors women in commemoration of International Women's Day.

In Tianjin, Women Prove They Can Handle Power
Zhao Nan works in her station in Ninghe District, Tianjin. [China Daily]


Zhao Nan, 34, has received numerous awards for her work, including the "March 8 Red-banner Pacesetter" in Ninghe District, Tianjin, and accolades granted by the State Grid. "To protect the 'heart' of the grid, the transformer substation, I believe I should be like a responsible doctor curing diseases," said Zhao, who leads a rescue team of seven engineers, most of whom are men.

Ever since she earned her master's degree in electric power engineering from Yanshan University in Hebei Province in 2016, Zhao has been actively involved in various critical tasks, including conducting internal inspections of capacitive switches in substations and overhauling circuit breakers.

Additionally, she has contributed to significant projects, including participating in the replacement of many high-kilowatt transformers.

Furthermore, she has been instrumental in capacitor and grounding grid transformations. Throughout her tenure, there have been no power grid, personal, or equipment accidents, including during her commitment to a seven-month special task for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

"My passion for my career is the key to my efforts, and carefulness — a trait often associated with women — is crucial to success," she said.

Echoing Zhao, Liu also emphasized the inner strength and endurance that women possess, saying that they persevere even when facing dangerous tasks.

"Sometimes, I don't tell my mom that I do some risky work ... for fear she would be worried about me," Liu said.

She recalled being impressed by the company's March 8 team, which solely consists of capable, competent women engineers working high above the ground.

In Tianjin, Women Prove They Can Handle Power
Liu is the first woman in the industry to hold a live-line work qualification on ultrahigh-voltage direct current transmission lines in China. [China Daily]


Sun Baoling, 70, who headed the team when it was first established in 1973, praised its dedication to precision and the meticulousness in their work.

The team was founded with 10 women members aged between 18 and 20. They cut their long ponytails, the most popular hairstyle in China at the time, not only as a safety measure but also to demonstrate their devotion to their work.

The engineers participated in power grid rescue efforts during the devastating earthquake in Tangshan, Hebei, in 1976.

"From my perspective, power grid rescue and maintenance work is for all people in need... so now, our commitment is often highly appreciated at the grassroots level," she said.

After retiring, Sun dedicated herself to voluntary community service in Tianjin's Hebei district.

"I feel proud to help the needy, and I have been doing so since my younger years when I was a high-altitude power engineer," she said.


(Source: China Daily)


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