dinsdag 23 november 2010

The Women Electricians of Southern Command

Despite hesitation to give women the position of electrician, today as many as 80% of soldiers in the southern region’s Ordnance Supply Unit are women, and they do the job well

By: Rotem Caro Weizman

They say that girls and cars don’t go together. So what. In the southern region’s Ordnance Supply Unit women serve as vehicle electricians responsible for electric services in all the region’s vehicles. The women may cope with weird and skeptical looks wherever they go, but when the car at home doesn’t work, they’re the ones who get the engine started.
“Up until six months ago, we would rarely take women for the position. The general thinking was women weren’t good for it because of the physical work the job requires,” says the department commander, Warrant Officer Gilad Nahum. “Today, there is a course for female electricians in Bahad 20 (an education base) and they’ve been serving here for over a year.“ Gilad commands a fleet of women soldiers and is sure they are just as skilled as their male counterparts. “80% of the soldiers here are women and they’re excellent. I was apprehensive at first, but they proved to me that there’s no difference between men and women. I never heard one complaint about ruining their nails,” he laughs.
Corp. Adi Hochman wasn’t sure about the position at first, “I thought it might be too physically demanding for us, but ultimately I really got into it. I decided not to prevent myself from trying something new and today, I get to enjoy the women I work with and the special atmosphere we’ve created.“
The families and friends didn’t always know how to take the women’s new profession - a woman coming home with grease on her hands is pretty unusual. “People who came to the workshop didn’t think that it was a job for a woman. They reacted weirdly, so I decided that before I prove it to them, I’ll prove to myself that I can do this job the best way possible,” says Corp. Liat Avraham.
“It was weird for me when the women first got here, I looked at their hands and I wondered how they’d be able to do the work,” confesses Sgt. Anton Nicolin, one of the department electricians. “But with time, I saw that they worked hard and I got used to seeing them. Now, when I see a woman in the garage, it will be the most natural thing in the world.”
For Arielle Lando, equality between the sexes in the army is especially important. She’ll soon become a combat soldier in a Caracal battalion (a combat unit made of men and women). “I always wanted to become a combat soldier like my brother and I believe that combat positions and positions such as the one I’m doing now show what equality really is. It gives women the chance to prove that they can do whatever guys can,” she says.
The electricians recommend the position to future enlistees. ”The knowledge and understanding we gained in this field is something we wouldn’t have gotten in our everyday lives. In the future, we can use these skills even when we come across simple problems. It’ll also save us a lot of money,” says Zahavit. “Some girls pass by here and feel sorry for us because we get dirty, but we prefer this position over any secretarial one,” says Shirly.