“We tried that before and it didn’t work.” That was the initial response that Dawn Easley got when she first proposed to Comcast’s TechOps leadership that she not only take a step “backward” in her career trajectory, but also break the glass ceiling to become a female technician trainee in the Oregon Southwest Washington region. That was in 2001.
Today, Easley is an installation supervisor in Eugene, recently promoted to the role. She started her career in telecom in 1996 in the TCI days, as a customer service representative. She worked her way up through call center management but when a technician role opened, she says she “knew it was time to take a leap.”
“It took a lot of pleading for the opportunity,” she says, but eventually, she was given a chance. Looking back, Easley realizes that she didn’t understand the future challenges she’d face, winning the respect of her peers in terms of being able to do the job as a woman. “No one ever said anything, but I knew they were thinking: ‘Here is this woman who wears power suits and heels to work, and now she’s in boots and jeans.’ ”
“I was fine with new hire training — until the ladder certification, she recalls. “I struggled so hard with it because I’m short, and the ladders were heavy and awkward. One day out in the yard, I dropped it, and I remember one of my teammates saying, “I knew you weren’t cut out for tech work.” Easley committed to dig in and do whatever it took to prove him wrong. “My mentor worked with me after class and helped me figure out a way to control the ladder. The next day I certified. I was a new technician.”
As one of very few female technicians in a vastly male dominated field, Easley constantly had to prove herself to people who assumed that she didn’t know what she was doing. “I would have customers ask me if perhaps I should wait for a second opinion before I started a job. Men asked if I needed help carrying my spool of cable to the backyard.”
She says that even today customers are surprised to see a female technician at their door, but happily, she often gets kudos for breaking down barriers that she considers ancient history. “I’ve become a firm believer that anyone can do anything they put their mind to,” says Easley. “I hope to be an inspiration to my children to achieve their dreams.”
Today Easley finds herself supervising a team of eight men, but still sees a role for herself as a voice to empower women. “I love this place, what we do, and all the support that I get on a daily basis. I have proven I am not afraid to get dirty and that I can do the same job as all my peers. I’ve had great role models and people who never gave up on me. I hope I can do the same for other women – and men – as they pursue their career journeys at Comcast.”