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Niche careers for women in engineering

by Madelein
Niche careers for women in engineering

In today’s business world, women are occupying almost every type of role, including niche roles that are sometimes overlooked. This can be a very rewarding position for women and Sizakele Mofokeng from Soweto, Johannesburg, can attest to this. Sizakele works as a civil engineering technologist for an engineering firm, GIBB, and believes it’s a fulfilling career to consider.

Having a love for mathematics and science, she obtained a diploma in civil engineering and then a BTech degree majoring in transportation at the University of Technology.

In 2008, GIBB employed Mofokeng, where she worked her way up to become a civil engineering technologist. Our roads, pavements and the conveyors used in mines all originated as a design by technologists like Mofokeng. When she is not working on drawings in the office, Mofokeng is on site, where she observes her design work coming to life.

Not only reserved for men

Civil engineering is a broad field that spans transportation, the structure of buildings and bridges, geotechnical, surveys, and water and sewerage, to name just a few. Mofokeng believes that civil engineering is a good career choice for women. While the industry has been historically male dominated, more women are entering the field, but she believes there’s room for improvement.

Mofokeng advises women to believe in themselves and to have self-confidence. “It’s also important to have a mentor, keep abreast of new developments in the industry and build a strong network.”

Her work provides stimulating and challenging opportunities, such as GIBB’s current large-scale mining projects. Mofokeng is involved in the design process for the formation of conveyors for a mining project and manages the roads team.

One of her highlights was the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) project in the Johannesburg central business district (CBD). The BRT is a high-capacity, bus-based transit system that includes dedicated lanes, busways, traffic signal priority, off-board fare collection, elevated platforms and enhanced stations. She also works with GIBB’s other private and municipal clients, such as SANRAL. 

A fulfilling and rewarding career choice

When asked what makes her feel fulfilled, Mofokeng says it’s rewarding to see her designs reach the construction stage. “I also enjoy multidisciplinary projects. It’s exciting to witness different disciplines collaborating, realising the interdependence of the teams involved, and seeing the impact of our individual work overall. It’s good to meet different people, especially those on site because you learn a lot from them.”

Mofokeng also says the infrastructure of roads must be upgraded, allowing for work opportunities in the civil engineering industry. “It is a fulfilling and rewarding career, but it is important to build a strong community network.”

She would like to begin mentoring and giving students insight into the careers they can follow; and encourage them to discover the industry and all it has to offer.

For more information, contact GIBB:
Tel: +27 11 519 4600
Email: info@gibb.co.za
Website: www.gibb.co.za

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