Janine Quinn is a fixer…and a breaker.
She’s a fixer in her job as Shop Mechanic I (SM I) at Missouri American Water, the highest level of the trade. She works on anything in the water plant that needs maintenance, repair, or replacement, and deals with electrical control systems, power panels, pipe-fitting, instrumentation, pumps and motors.
To get there, she broke through barriers that previously kept other women from the position. The first was in 2005, when she applied to Missouri American’s construction and maintenance department and was required to pass a very strenuous physical test that included lifting pipes, digging holes, and operating saws and jack hammers.
Quinn says her upbringing and work history, including 10 years as a construction laborer, prepared her for any challenge. “I’ve always been mechanically inclined and knew my brain and hands worked in unison since I was a very young age.” She grew up the youngest of 11 siblings and spent many years working on cars and honing carpentry skills.
After a year in the construction and maintenance department, she moved into field service, where she worked for 10 years, always looking to get into a shop mechanic helper position or another job that would be more challenging and better suit her skills. Finally, in 2018, she bid on the Shop Mechanic II job and passed the electrical and garage mechanic exams, the first woman to do so. After two years in that job, she was eligible to test into SM I. She passed exams in plumbing-pipefitting and carpentry-millwright and has been there since.
The shop mechanic position can be a very physical and dirty at times, but that doesn’t bother Quinn. She encourages other women currently working for American Water to follow her lead if they have the interest and skill to do the work.