Pioneering The Path For SA Women In Engineering

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In the historically male-dominated engineering field, South African women are breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and making significant strides. As the nation progresses towards greater gender equality across various career fields, more women are opting for careers in STEM, and in particular, engineering.

But although the landscape is changing, more needs to be done to ensure women understand the valuable contribution they can make in the field of engineering, while greater access to this field of study must become the norm, says Siyavuya Makubalo, Marketing Manager at Oxbridge Academy,.

“South African women in engineering are challenging traditional gender norms by venturing into fields historically dominated by men. With determination and resilience, they are proving engineering prowess knows no gender boundaries. This shift is gradually reshaping the perception of women in the industry and encouraging more girls to consider engineering as a viable and rewarding career option,” she says.

In addition to ensuring continued gender transformation in the field, it is also necessary to ensure greater diversity in the sector.

“Women from various walks of life in South Africa bring unique insights, perspectives, experiences, and problem-solving approaches, says Makubalo. “This diversity of thought fosters innovation and creativity within the industry, while companies benefit from a diverse workforce, enhancing their ability to tackle complex challenges and devise groundbreaking solutions.”

Unfortunately, while there is progress, women in engineering still face challenges related to stereotypes, unconscious bias, and workplace dynamics.
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Siyavuya Makubalo, Marketing Manager: Oxbridge Academy

“However, the determination of the women already in the field to overcome these obstacles is a testament to their commitment to succeed and contribute meaningfully to the field. Still, more initiatives supporting female engineers’ advancement are essential for fostering a more inclusive and equitable engineering landscape.”

There are many more pathways into the field of engineering today than in the past, and prospective students should familiarise themselves with the options available to them. A 3-year university degree is no longer the only way to get a foot in the door in this sector, and there are various other pathways, including starting from an N1 level with just a Grade 10 qualification that includes Maths and Physical Science.

From there, students can progress to N3 and even decide to pursue further studies at the N4 level up to the N6 diploma level, including in the fields of Electrical, Mechanical, and Civil Engineering.

South Africa can truly celebrate how far we have come in improving access to women and women of colour in the field of engineering, but more must be done to recognise their contributions and foster an empowering environment to ensure we create an equitable engineering landscape that reflects our nation’s true potential.

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