Women in (So-Called) Male Careers

My line of work is Environmental Auditing, which often takes me to construction sites in Gauteng. These sites are dusty, hot, and dangerous. Physically gruelling work has traditionally been only for men, and even today it is still dominated by males. However, now more women than ever before are taking up jobs in these types of industries.

Women are engineers, safety officers, quantity surveyors, construction workers, and miners. Equity laws have made this possible, but it also shows a drive and capability of women to play key roles in services that a country cannot do without. And they get things done while still maintaining their female identity. I met a lady who wore overalls and hard safety boots, but her perfume scent wafted gently from her, through the baking heat and dust.

Sadly, challenges still arise for women in these industries. While on the whole, the male perspective is shifting, with many men giving proper respect to women they work with, there is always a male worker who dares to hiss suggestively at a female superior.  There must be gender sensitivity training, and serious consequences for these actions.

I was once told by a distant uncle that I should have chosen a more feminine career, because Environmental Sciences is for men. To him and all men like him, I do not dignify such views with a response, but instead I become even more driven to transform the economy in ways he cannot.

Women at work, I commend you. 


See my review of the Wastex Africa Conference, featuring the most innovative waste management systems in the region.


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