“The role of women in the engineering sector is no different from that of males. Both sexes contribute to the economy of the country in the same way through developing infrastructure that provides basic services such as energy, water and food security, transport and infrastructure, communication, and access to education and healthcare. Furthermore, both sexes possess the same capabilities that will bring change to the country.”
Even though those words are part of a statement which was issued during the Women’s Month 2018 by the Engineering Council of South Africa’s chief executive officer, Sipho Madonsela, a 24-year-old woman, Murendeni Ramusetheli, seems to have heard them first when she decided to pursue a career in engineering almost a decade ago.
Despite all the negative information around her, where some people within earshot discouraged women from entering the engineering industry – let alone study engineering – Murendeni registered for a qualification in electrical engineering (heavy current) at Tshwane South College (2013). She then completed her diploma and trade test as an electrician in 2017.
“School was not easy, but self- motivation kept me going through. Okay – let me be clear on this one aspect: I failed some of my modules on the way because I didn’t understand theoretically. But I didn’t give up. You can never be successful if you don’t fail on the way. I succeeded because I saw my failures and worked on them.”
She indicates that female engineers are few because the problem is that they are undermined and discouraged to do engineering as they are told that it’s not a woman’s work.
“It starts within the family background. Parents do not encourage their children to take engineering courses. Instead, they discourage their young ladies with negative statements which are just stereotypical perceptions.”
She says that discouragement is the cause of worry for the scarcity of female engineers in practice practising in the workplace or workplace today.
“For example, they would say that a female is not capable to fix overhead cables or to climb poles. Like I have said it already, they think it’s a man’s duty. Parents would say: “Eh my daughter going up that long pole – what if you slip and fall from that pole? Don’t you know that electricity is very dangerous?’’ The truth is, even a man can still fall from up there in cases of accidents because accidents are not planned, and that’s why we call them ‘accidents’.”
“I am currently working as an operator at Ford Motor Company, where we build and manufacture cars. My work requires hard working, teamwork, self-dedication and working under pressure. Society has a negative perception of women and hard -work. As women, we are undermined that we cannot fix electricity or be engineers. But we are hard-workers too!”
She urges females to consider doing engineering.
“Lastly I can say that young ladies, let’s do engineering in great numbers. We can do it and we are able.”
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