NEW YORK - Siu Ling Ko is now in charge of the maintenance, repair, and overhaul of more than 7,000 subway cars and she is the first woman in the MTA to have that job. Ko is the vice president and chief mechanical officer of subway car equipment.
"We have come a long way," Ko said. "Our system is 100-plus years old and I'm the first chief mechanical officer."
Ko has been with the subway car equipment division with New York City Transit for 34 years.
"When I started, I was only one of two female engineers in the entire system for car equipment.
She still laughs about one of her early experiences on the job when she went to troubleshoot an issue at a maintenance shop.
"Guess what — I found out there's no ladies' room in the shop and I was very taken aback," Ko said. "But they figured out a way to let me use the bathroom."
She is hoping her appointment will open the door for other women. "I would love to be their role model," she said.
And Ko has a lot on her plate as commuters slowly return to the subway.
"I hope they will find the cars cleaner, more reliable and more comfortable," Ko said. "We want them to get home safely."
And, even though she is the first woman to land this job, she is hoping young women understand one very important thing.
"It's not just because you're a woman. It's because you work hard, got good qualifications," Ko said. "And hope that one day that people don't look at the gender. Just there because you're the best qualified person."