I am Engineer!

The career series

Refiloe Sekabate (22)

“I was told not to have a child in the next 5 years because it will be difficult for me to attain my qualification and meet ECSA requirements as my progress will be delayed. But I wouldn’t do anything else” -Refiloe

The world today tells young women that we have equal opportunities and we can aspire to achieve anything we set our minds to. This may be true however the struggles of women in successful careers should not go unnoticed, even with the notion that we can achieve anything beyond our ‘limits’ we often receive misguided information about career choices when we are young which ultimately feed into the rest of our lives.

Refiloe believes that it is important to first establish what a career is to you as an individual , ” the definition of a career to me is an individual journey through life related to your work not specifically related to a particular job or position however it’s the whole progression of a person going through school, and university. ” She is clearly able to articulate this as she is currently in her journey as a university student ,studying towards a metallurgical engineering degree this career choice was not a spontaneous decision she explains that she choose this career field by matching her interests ,her goals ,and her abilities moreover making a conscious decision everyday to put in the work.

“I chose engineering because I love problem solving, I am very systematic and I love logical processing, the character and what is needed in engineering resonates with who I am” , this is a very important aspect to note as people often find themselves in situations where they are stuck in careers they find no fulfillment in simply because of financial needs . She further explains that engineering is a very broad career, there are engineers who work in banks, admin and government sectors because the skills attained in engineering can be used in any work space.

This amazing career field does not go without it’s challenges , Refiloe expresses that women in the engineering field still experience predujice on the basis of their physical stature because men have physical capabilities to perform certain tasks that women cannot. “We still get nasty comments from men and when you get to a workshop looking for employment  you still get asked why are you not doing arts, accounting or humanities” she further explains that the protective gear is unsuitable and uncomfortable for women and the environment is not welcoming for women ” I worked in a plant where there was actually one bathroom for women. The protective gear is uncomfortable when your on your periods and you can’t wear it when your pregnant ,the hard hats don’t accommodate women’s hair ,the protective shoes are not suitable for women because the sizes are big and I know of one division where the women had to fight for basic sanitary towel bins to be placed in their bathrooms “

These women work in an environment that is stagnant, it shows growth on the surface but in essence the industry is still largely dominated by men. It is evident that as much as women are succeeding in male dominated sectors it is with great sacrifice and uncomfortable silence. We as women need to move into uncomfortable spaces with passion to show that we will no longer be accommodated for working just as hard and even harder for the same jobs and qualifications. Young women like Refiloe remind us that with hard work it is possible to reach your highest potential in a patriarchal environment, and the more we share our stories we advocate for other women who are voiceless.

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May love,peace and grace be upon you.

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