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Flossmoor woman is ComEd’s first female overhead electrician overcame challenges

Savoya Taylor of Flossmoor demonstrates her ability to climb a utility pole. She is the first female overhead electrician specialist at ComEd. (Provided photo)

Savoya Taylor of Flossmoor admits her job climbing poles 50 feet in the air to work on electricity isn’t for everyone.

Rain or shine, day or night, Taylor will be one of ComEd’s specialists working to give homes and businesses power.

Savoya Taylor of Flossmoor demonstrates her ability to climb a utility pole. She is the first female overhead electrician specialist at ComEd. (Provided photo)

“It’s not made for everybody. You’ve got to be focused and strong minded,” Taylor said.

The 43-year-old said when she started in the world of work she never gave the overhead electrician specialist position a thought. Today she is the first woman at ComEd to hold the position.

“It’s just amazing. I appreciate the company recognizing me. I’m definitely proud of myself. I didn’t know it would have this much impact,” she said. “I just knew I wanted to try it and be a role model for young ladies. You can do whatever you put your mind…in a dominate male field.”

Taylor started with the company as a meter reader, a job she had for five years.

“When I had my interview, I remember them asking me ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ and at the time I really didn’t know. I’m definitely proud of the opportunity and I’m definitely further than I expected,” Taylor said.

For a time it didn’t seem the overhead electrician specialist job would be a good fit. Initially she didn’t make it through the rigorous seven-day training.

“The first time I only made it through four days. I just wasn’t strong enough (to climb a pole) and ready to endure everything, so I dropped out,” she recalled.

Savoya Taylor, of Flossmoor

But she didn’t quit.

“I wasn’t going to let that defeat me. I said ‘I’m coming back.’ I started exercising and a couple months later I returned and made it through,” she said.

Passing that initial test put her into a 90-day training program. Taylor admits to “getting nervous because I was the only lady in the class with 90 men. I was a little intimidated and scared,” and started doubting herself, but she talked herself through the program reassuring herself she could do it.

The next step was a 2-and-a-half year apprenticeship. Taylor, a mother of four, says, “I just pushed through it. I had a great support system. It’s definitely demanding but it’s great and the kids and the family were there and helped make it happen as well.”

The program gave Taylor training in the ABCs of electricity, how it works and the various transformers she’d be working on. 

Taylor stresses: “You need to understand what you’re dealing with and respect it (electricity). You’ve got to know conduction. It was a lot of book and field work, and work in training outdoors.”

Safety is essential on the job. Taylor wears rubber gloves and robber sleeves. 

“You have a lot on.  When it’s hot you still have the rubber gloves and rubber sleeves on because they’ll save your life,” she explained.

After she completed her apprenticeship, she worked on a crew. Despite her trepidation in training, she said now she and the male electricians make a great team.

Since her promotion in June 2019, Taylor works alone on a rotating shift. She drives her ComEd truck to her territory on the north side of Chicago. She uses her training and ability to climb the pole “relying on your belt and your hooks. It definitely takes a lot of courage.”

As one of the ComEd electricians who is called out on emergencies, Taylor says: “We know it’s time to get up and go at any given hour.” Her truck has lights she can use to provide light for her work, and she has helmet lights and flashlights.

Today her 19-year-old daughter Alona is a ComEd customer service representative, and her 18-year-old daughter Michiah is getting physically fit to take on the challenges of the overhead electrician specialist course.

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