After a year-long nomination process, PEC Technical Training Manager James Vasquez was notified that his mother, Rosa Vasquez, would be the first woman inducted into the International Lineman’s Museum’s Hall of Fame. To surprise her, he gathered the entire Vasquez family to announce the news. Not only was Rosa Vasquez surprised; she could hardly believe it was true.
“I was in shock,” Rosa Vasquez said. “They kept having to tell me it was true because I just couldn’t believe it. I’m the first woman in the hall of fame, and it’s just wonderful.”
“She is so deserving of this moment: This means everything to my mom and I,” James Vasquez, who nominated her for the honor, said.
Rosa Vasquez was one of six lineworkers honored May 6 at the American Public Power Association’s lineworkers rodeo in San Antonio. She described the experience as “unreal” and never imagined she would be acknowledged through an industry organization.
In 1978, Rosa Vasquez was hired on the spot when she applied for a position at Central Power and Light (CPL) in Harlingen. The Equal Rights Amendment had just been passed by Congress, allowing women to pursue new opportunities and creating a breakthrough in male-dominated industries. As a 27-year-old single mom and the first and only female lineworker at CPL during that time, Rosa Vasquez constantly had to prove to her peers, to the company and to society that her gender didn’t define her abilities.
“All those guys thought a woman couldn’t do a ‘man’s job,’ but you know what? I proved them wrong,” Rosa Vasquez said. “Nothing can stop you if you have a passion for what you do in life.”
In 1982, Rosa Vasquez was promoted to substation technician. She worked long hours and through harsh weather conditions on the Texas coast, but it was during this time that James Vasquez got the bug to follow his mother’s footsteps.
“I used to go out with her to do late night switching,” James Vasquez said. “I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie, and I’ve always looked up to my mother, so pursuing a lineman role was a no-brainer to me.”
He praises his mom’s accomplishments to his four daughters, too, and said he believes it’s important for them to see that you can truly do anything you want as long as you have the courage to believe you can do it.
After a rewarding 30-year career at CPL, Rosa Vasquez, now retired, is encouraging women to continue to push boundaries in the utility industry.
“To all the women out there: You can do it. Never forget that,” she said. “A lineman doesn’t describe a gender, it describes a trait. Women are just as capable to make their mark in this field and in the world as everyone else.”