“Only 11% of all engineers globally are females. And women are still totally under-represented in the engineering industry with the number of female engineering graduates below 20% in many countries.” This is according to Naadiya Moosajee, the co-founder of WomEng, a South African social enterprise that is now operating in at least 13 countries.
As a training hub, the question of how we prepare females for a male-dominated industry is one that is rarely spoken about. Now that it has come up, here is one way to look at it: yes, we have females that play soccer, but, they don’t play on the same team as men. Therefore, how do we prepare the women we train to play on the same team as men?
We sat down with Phemeza Bukeka, an electrical engineer by education, and P2 alumni at Resolution Circle. Phumeza is due to obtain her Electrical engineering diploma from the Vaal University of Technology soon. Standing tall in her PPE and safety boots, she declared that, although she is yet to enter the industry as a qualified technician, she is happy that more and more women are thriving in engineering.
It is an unspoken rule at Resolution Circle, that everyone who is accepted into the experiential learning programme is treated as a technician and is expected to behave as one. Therefore, everyone on our workplace readiness programme is exposed to six trades (fitting and turning, carpentry, electrical, electronics, automation and boiler making), where they learn basic hand tooling for the first six months and application for another six months.
But, we do live in a country that has clearly defined gender roles. During her interview on a TV show called iSpani, Keneilwe Ntwagae – an Electrical engineering graduate at Vaal Tech and a junior technician at Resolution Circle, talked about being a woman in the engineering industry, she said: “of all the trades I have learnt during my training with Resolution Circle, boiler making was out of my comfort zone. It is something I never thought I would do and we thought it is for men, but women can do it too”.
Phumeza detailed that working with men is no different from working with women, she said – “during our training, we were never overlooked just because we are women”. Boiler making and welding workshop training instructor – Winston Lawrence also encourages women to explore careers in the engineering sector and emphasises that there are no restrictions whatsoever in the industry.
As Women’s month comes to an end, we at Resolution Circle would like to take a moment to celebrate the women who don safety boots and PPEs to design, develop, test and supervise electrical systems and mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.
Learn more about our workplace readiness workshop training programme and experiential training, head on over to our website: https://www.resolutioncircle.co.za/