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Brazilian Female Coil Winder Proves Gender Does not Matter – Erika Vilma Rodrigues, coil winder at Hitachi Energy in Brazil

Brazilian Female Coil Winder Proves Gender Does not Matter – Erika Vilma Rodrigues, coil winder at Hitachi Energy in Brazil

Shattering Barriers and Making History

Erika is a pioneer woman. When the chance presented itself to work in a predominantly male territory, Erika accepted the challenge, breaking the glass ceiling, and making history as the first female large-sized coil winder at Hitachi Energy in Brazil.

Coil winding involves precisely wrapping wire around a core to create specific electrical components with desired properties. While not inherently dangerous, there are potential risks associated with coil winding, including electrical hazards. 

As a single mom to two daughters, Erika welcomed job trajectories that were demanding and formidable. Starting on the production line at a food company, she forayed into customer service when she knocked on the doors of Hitachi Energy nine months ago.

Breaking the Mold in Male-Dominated Sectors

“It was challenging, but a chance for a great future. Then I received a proposal from my managers to be the first female coil winder at Hitachi Energy in Brazil,” she said. “Considering that there is still a lot of prejudice against women, I thought it would be very difficult to take on a job totally aimed at men. It’s a challenge to work with spools of electrical wire and industrial drawings. Yes, there were times when I didn’t think I could do it!”

Erika said that while there are career opportunities for women in the power systems industry in Latin America, traditional gender norms still hold sway in certain sectors, such as energy. She added that winding has the particularity of being a sector where they work with a practically handcrafted product, “where each project must be careful and zealous. So, women, by their very nature, stand out, meet the need and the required quality.”

A Vision for Inclusion and Progress

Today, women in the energy sector show physical, manual strength, like moving a spool of electrical wires or an overhead cane. Erika believes it is important to train everyone without discrimination.

“But incredible as it may seem, I had the full support of most of the men, my coworkers, and the
leadership saying, ‘Erika, you can do it! We believe in you.’ Every day has been a learning
experience, and I’m evolving,” she said.
For nine months, Erika trained under Valter de Almeida, a colleague with 47 years of experience as a winder.

“The leadership and management also support me in what I need for my learning and safety. It’s a unique experience to be in a position where I can show that women can also do men’s work. Hitachi Energy has given me the chance to believe in myself where I thought something so splendid wasn’t for women, like winding a coil with electrical wires.”

Erika considers her experience an opportunity to expand her knowledge in an area as important as coil winding. She is also contemplating studying again to grow with the company. She believes that the main challenge in the power system industry is advancing a sustainable energy for all.

“I want to thank Hitachi Energy and everyone who supports me in this long journey of challenges. I’m proud to be a part of it,” Erika said.

She continues to break down barriers and champion gender diversity that ensures diversity, equity, and inclusion at the core of its long-term business success.

Find more inspirational interviews and articles in our September 2023 issue of Women in Power Systems.