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Women of Metra Series

Women of Metra: Spotlight - Janida Gardner

December 2018

When Janida Gardner is asked if she ever considered working for a railroad as a young girl, she replies with an emphatic, “Absolutely not!” 


However, while Janida was completing her electrician’s degree, the subject of Metra came up during a college Employee Days.  She says, “It was intriguing; just the whole thing about trains.  I’ve always been fascinated by trains.  I applied for it.  At first, I didn’t think I was going to get it, but then they called, and here I am!”   


Janida is now in her seventh year as a mechanical foreman with Metra.  She is one of three women in a shop of approximately 65 co-workers.  Her responsibilities include completing small maintenance projects and conducting up to 14 inspections a day on the commuter railroad’s revenue locomotives. 


Janida says she loves her job.  “It was more than what I expected. I had the electrical and maintenance background prior to this, but trains are a whole bigger monster, a whole bigger ordeal.  It’s exciting!  There’s always something new every day.”


Janida attributes her success to a competitive nature.  “I want to be better day by day. I want to learn.  I’m interested in new things. I like the complicated problems.”


Another key factor in Janida’s accomplishments and satisfaction with her career path is the support and comradery she has experienced from her co-workers.  “When I got here, I met Dave Villanueva, who has been my mentor since I started. He’s a mechanical foreman as well. When I was an apprentice he took me under his wing, showed me the ropes, pushed me a little harder. I’m very appreciative of him.”


Janida likes working in a predominately male environment.  “The guys are wonderful. We have fun. They make it smooth. They’re gentlemen.”


Her advice to other women?   “On the outside looking in, it might seem scary, but it’s not as scary as you’d think. If you’ve got a knack for it, I think you should go for it.  It’s an amazing experience!”

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