Jordan Demartino climbs towards the top of a power pole in a bucket truck.
On a cool South Carolina morning, Duke Energy electrical linemen shift their gaze toward the sky as their colleague rises above them in a bucket truck.
Jordan Demartino's blonde ponytail peeks out from underneath her white safety helmet. She's quiet as she reaches the top and gets to work connecting a line from a transformer along a rural road to a new light she's installing in a customer's backyard.
Demartino doesn't present herself as the unicorn she actually is -- one of only five women among the roughly 2,500 lineworkers Duke Energy employs.
The job can be demanding: Crews often work around the clock in miserable conditions during severe weather and power outages. Strength and agility are a must as lineworkers are required to lift heavy equipment up towering poles and through underground tunnels. Anyone afraid of heights or tight spaces need not apply.
Demartino, 22, says the guys were a bit surprised to have her join the team two years ago.
"When they heard they were getting a girl at work, they were like, 'What? Have people lost their mind?'" she said.
But high-voltage work makes sense for women seeking a trade where they can earn good salaries and equal pay. The jobs aren't hard to come by as experienced lineworkers grow older and retire.
The nation's power grid also is aging, requiring a constant stream of work by electric companies nationwide. With overtime, salaries can easily soar into the six-figure range.
But lineworker training programs are still struggling to enroll willing female candidates.
Rumbling along the rutted roads of Ghana at the wheel of her giant truck, Abigail Asumadu-Amoah turns heads but keeps her focus.
Buckling up in a pearl-silver Lexus, Sabeeha al-Fakher takes the wheel and relegates her son to the passenger seat, a role reversal the 68-year-old Saudi widow never imagined would be possible in her lifetime.
“We attach great importance to equal respect and opportunities for women and men,” explains Rector Frank Baaijens of Eindhoven University of Technology.
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