It’s merit that lands women in male traditional jobs

IT’S not a secret that even in today’s world, where people talk of equality at workplace, when you walk into an engineering firm, the place is not usually full of women. You might be wondering why it matters that there’s not a better gender balance in the industry?

Or put it this way- when thinking about the law of the instrument, the phrase, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” provides another argument as to why diversity should matter.

Generally, if problems are solved by people of one gender that also come from similar socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the solutions are likely not to consider all aspects of the problem. An example of this in practice is the design of urban, public spaces in regards to street safety.

Women often feel unsafe in an environment where men are comfortable. Other issues include the lack of space for pushchairs next to seating in parks and recreational spaces, or the issue of thermal comfort in office environments.

Problem solving is often based on past experience. Therefore it’s easier to cater for a diverse user group when the design team is also diverse. This drives us to the fact that if women become more educated, opportunities increase for them to dominate the traditional male jobs and as that go along, the society is realising that what matters in delivery is merit. With that in mind, it is pleasing to see how Siah Malle, an ordinary Tanzanian is a shining example that women can make it to the jobs, which the tradition has been only associating with men.

Her journey to become a judge at the 8th Tanzania Women in Engineering Convention and Exhibition (TAWECE) is a testament to her passion, dedication and hard work. Growing up, Siah was fascinated by the world of science and technology and her brother, a civil engineer, sparked her interest in engineering and she was determined to follow in his footsteps.

Encouraged by her teachers, she studied science and mathematics at high school, where she excelled in these subjects.

Siah was then enrolled onto a three-year diploma engineering course at Arusha Technical College, where she studied engineering and her teacher, Mr John Mbando, recognised her potential early on and encouraged her to move away from civil engineering and specialise in mechanical engineering.

Mr Mbando convinced her that mechanical engineering had many advantages, including being readily employed and offering solutions for society with in terms of infrastructures being built to them with ease.

After successfully completing her diploma, Siah went to Mbeya University Of Science And Technology for three years, where she graduated with a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering with a grade point average of 4.3 and was awarded the Best Female Graduating Student award in her graduation year of 2019.

Siah’s teacher, Mr Mbando, played a pivotal role in her journey as an engineer. He not only taught her the technical skills of mechanical engineering, but also instilled in her the importance of ethics, communication and teamwork. He encouraged her to follow her dreams and never give up, even when faced with challenges.

Siah’s experience is a testament to the power of mentorship and the impact it can have on one’s career and life. After completing her studies, Siah was recruited by Geita Gold Mining Limited (GGML) for an internship as a mechanical engineer.

Today, she works as Coordinator 2 – Reliability and is part of the Engineering – Asset Management & System Reliability team. She was excited to be part of a company committed to responsible mining practices, environmental sustainability and gender equality.

At GGML, Siah has had the opportunity to work on various projects, including the designand implementation of sustainable energy solutions. As a judge at TAWECE 2023, Siah was honoured to play a crucial role in promoting gender equality and empowering young women to pursue their dreams in engineering.

She assessed engineering projects presented by young female engineers and provided valuable feedback and guidance. Siah was impressed by the innovative ideas and solutions presented at the exhibition, including the solar power design project, the automatic juice blender and the blood donor and search app.

These projects demonstrated the potential of engineering to address realworld challenges and improve people’s lives. Siah was proud to be part of an event that challenged gender stereotypes and broke down barriers for women in engineering.

Siah believes that events like TAWECE are crucial in inspiring more women and girls to pursue engineering careers, breaking down gender stereotypes and challenging the status quo. To become a successful engineer, you need to possess several key skills and attributes.

These include technical knowledge, problem-solving skills, creativity and innovation, communication skills, analytical thinking, time management and teamwork.

Siah stresses the importance of integrity, transparency and professional development, as well as the need for engineers to keep abreast of the latest advances in technology. As a role model for aspiring female engineers, Siah’s goals are to improve operational efficiency, drive innovation and technology, and pursue further education and training.

Her dream project is to design a system that will make troubleshooting easier and more efficient, benefiting not only GGML but the mining industry as a whole.

As well as furthering her education, she is determined to encourage young girls and women to pursue careers in engineering. Siah’s journey as a young female engineer is an inspiration to all.

With the support of her teachers, mentors and employer, she has overcome challenges and pursued her dreams, empowering others along the way.

Her story is a testament to the power of mentorship, hard work and dedication, and serves as a reminder that women can excel in traditionally male-dominated fields such as mining engineering.

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