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How this Telangana woman broke glass ceiling

Climbing 18-feet electricity poles is now a child’s play for this woman from Telangana who has conquered a male bastion to become the first female lineman in the public sector power distribution company.

Babburi Sirisha’s appointment in Telangana State Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (TSSPDCL) may now force the authorities to change the gender-specific nomenclature of the post as she is keen to be called linewoman.

After a long struggle, including the legal battle, the 21-year-old has been appointed as junior lineman in Medchal circle of TSSPDCL.

By clearing written and pole tests, this daughter of daily wage workers not only proved her mettle but scripted history by making electricity authorities remove the condition that only men are eligible to apply for the posts.

Sirisha is elated over breaking the glass ceiling and realising her long-cherished dream. She is now eagerly looking to get on to the work.

Hailing from Chebarthi villahe in Siddipet district, Shirisha grew up with a dream different from girls of her age. She chose an uncharted course for herself. People laughed at her with the remark “this is not the job of a woman” but she wanted to break the stereotype.

Her uncle B. Shekar, who was an employee in the electricity department, encouraged her to do ITI (electrical) course. “He used to tell me that nothing is impossible and that there will be a lot of opportunities in the department,” she said.

Confident of becoming eligible for the post of junior lineman, she got the training in pole climbing from her uncle.

Sirisha, who completed ITI in 2017, was excited when TSSPDCL issued a notification in 2019 to fill the posts of 534 junior linemen. However, she was told that only men can apply.

Refusing to give up, Sirisha along with six other women applicants approached court and won the legal battle. She appeared in the written examination and cleared it.

The authorities started conducting a pole test only for men candidates who had passed the written test. Sirisha and another woman applicant V. Bharati who had passed the written test approached the court. TSSPDCL argued that women will find it difficult to discharge duties as line women since they need to climb the 18-feet electricity poles quite frequently. The court, however, ruled in favour of the women and directed the officials to conduct a pole test and appoint them if found eligible.

It was on December 23, 2020 that the pole test was conducted for Sirisha and Bharati. Both the women successfully climbed the eight-meter pole during the test held at Central Power Training Institute in Hyderabad.

Bharati, a native of Mahabubabad district, was appointed as junior linewoman in Telangana Transmission Corporation. Now Sirisha has become the first ever linewoman in TSSPDCL.

Sirisha recalled during training for pole climbing people used to give her strange looks. Unfazed by all this, she continued her hard work with determination. “Initially climbing a pole was tough but after continuous training I learnt the skills and now it has become very easy,” she said.

Sirisha, who is currently doing graduation from an open university, has also married recently. As she has been posted in Hyderabad, she is looking to shift her family. “My parents worked hard to give me a good education. Now, it’s time for me to give them back,” said Sirisha, who wants them to now take rest.