Meet Risper Muthoni. Many talented individuals have walked through the doors at Securex over the past 48 years, but Risper will go down in history as the first ever female technician in the company!
What inspired her to become a technician? How has the ride been? What challenges has she faced? We put these questions to her, so read on and be inspired!
- Why did you choose to become a technician?
Technology and engineering has always been my passion. After finishing high school, I wanted to do something unique, something that most people shy away from. That is how I settled on Telecommunications Engineering, which is what I studied.
- Talk to us about studying engineering. How many ladies were in the class?
Well, there were 40 students in my class but only six were ladies, myself included. Actually, I was the only girl on the first day of school! It was a bit daunting at first because it felt lonely being the only lady, but fortunately more girls joined us later.
Most of my male counterparts were supportive. However, I still got the odd “Sa mbona ulichagua engineering? Si ungefanya course ya business?” (Now why did you pick engineering? Why didn’t you study something to do with business instead?)
I still soldiered on because I was passionate about the course and I was determined to pursue it to the end.
- How did you feel when you became the first female technician to work at Securex?
You would have thought that I would have been used to being the only lady after my campus experience, but it was a bit difficult at first at work as well. That being said, I was very proud to be the first female technician to work at Securex. It’s definitely one of the highlights of my fledgling career!
It also helped that the men around me were quite eager to show me the ropes and help me find my feet as quickly as possible. I am very grateful for that.
- What keeps you going every day? What makes you excited to come to work?
Simply put, doing my work perfectly and making our clients happy with my service. Every job is important to me, no matter the scale. If I leave a site with a fully functional system, a satisfied client and no follow-up complaints, then I have done my job perfectly.
- Have you ever faced any discrimination while at work?
Unfortunately, yes. I recall a particular incident when I had been assigned to install equipment at a construction site in Nairobi. When I got to the site, I was told that, “Hapa ni mjengo, na ni wanaume pekee yake wako hapa. We are not comfortable with you being here.” (This is a construction site and it’s only men who are here.)
I had to go back to the office and be redeployed elsewhere. It was very discouraging because this is what I do every day. I had and still have been working around men all the time and it had never stopped me before.
However, I have since been back to the site and things were much more cordial then.
- What goes through your mind when you meet or read about other women working in male-dominated fields?
I have female friends who are working as technicians as well. I am always excited to speak to them because we get to exchange ideas and share our experiences in the field. Women face different challenges compared to men out here, and just talking about it with my peers makes me feel stronger.
- You mentioned that you have a daughter. Would you encourage her to do what you do?
Yes, I have a three-year old daughter. I would definitely love it if she wants to do what I do! But to be honest, it will be her decision in the end. I will keep encouraging her to study hard and if she also develops a passion for engineering then she has my full support.
- Any word of advice or parting shot to young women this International Women’s Day?
Always believe in yourself. If you put your mind to something and work hard at it, you can do it. And lastly, do good and good will eventually come back to you.
We’d also like to take a minute to applaud Rose Nyawira, who’s our first ever female Senior Security Officer!