SWEDEN One quarter of the engineers at the Stor-Rotliden wind farm in northern Sweden are women. It was a profound interest in technology that drew Rebecka Hedsell and Alexandra Vilminko to this varied profession.

The land-based Stor-Rotliden wind farm located in Åsele Municipality was commissioned in late 2010 and supplies renewable electricity to around 50,000 households. At the Vattenfall office in Fredrika, located some 20 km south of Stor-Rotliden, a team of eight wind power engineers work to maintain and repair the farm's 40 turbines.

34-year-old Vännäs-based Alexandra Vilminko is a qualified glassblower and was also a partner in a lunch restaurant when she decided to attend a two-year wind power engineering course in Strömsund.
"During the practical part of the course, I noticed that the female students were drawing considerably more attention. But since I started working at Stor-Rotliden, I've hardly thought about it. Everyone's treated exactly the same here."

31-year-old Fredrika-based Rebecka Hedsell was working as a maths and science teacher at a primary school when she learned about a vocational higher education course being run in Storuman.

"I'd always been very interested in technology and missed working with my hands. Moreover, I was becoming disillusioned working in a school environment."

Varied work
The wind power engineers at Stor-Rotliden always work in pairs. When Hedsell joined the team on 1 October last year, she was partnered with Vilminko.

"The work varies a lot depending on the time of year. During service periods, we're out at the wind turbines every day doing maintenance work. The rest of the year is mostly taken up with troubleshooting," explains Hedsell, who gave birth to her third child at the beginning of February and is currently on maternity leave.

"I'm planning on being at home for the next three or four months, then my partner will take over. I enjoy my job."

Managing the load
Engineering and technology-based courses are traditionally dominated by men. However, Vilminko and Hedsell both believe that as long as you are interested in technology, there is no reason to disregard the idea of training to become a wind power engineer.

"There's absolutely no truth to the suggestion that a woman wouldn't be able to do the job. Of course, a certain amount of heavy work is involved at times, but if you work intelligently, most tasks can be performed without the need for brute strength."

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