“The main challenge I have faced as a Black, female engineer is that you constantly need to prove yourself. You need to fight for what you know and believe you deserve, and ensure you have a solid support structure. The lens through which you are observed is usually more magnified than that used for males, and because of that you fear failing,” says Zutari Civil Engineer Tshegofatso Sibambato.
Tshegofatso completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. “I developed a love for science and mathematics and believed that engineering was a good fit.” She was inspired to study engineering due to a love for seeing the fruit of her labour coming alive through the building of civil infrastructure.
“Engineering elements are all around us, and I want to be part of building our country through the implementation of infrastructure services. Service delivery remains a huge concern for most communities within South Africa, and this speaks to the vast opportunities for us as engineers to implement projects to provide these services,” says Tshegofatso.
Her current role is geared towards being a project leader and managing the planning, executing, monitoring, and controlling processes involved in the project lifecycle. She is also a Design Engineer focusing mainly on stormwater drainage design.
Zutari has provided invaluable mentoring to guide her technical and professional development. A range of courses and workshops have broadened both her engineering and management knowledge. In addition, her fellow team members are always willing to offer up nuggets of wisdom and to share life lessons learnt.
Her message to women contemplating a similar career path is to always remember why you wanted to become an engineer and keep reminding yourself of that. Create networks of individuals who have your best interest at heart and who will help you to succeed. Determine what your career aspirations are and find mentors who can help you to obtain the skills that you need along that journey.
“Efforts are constantly being made for the engineering industry to transform. Many women continue to excel in the industry and have paved the way for others to have better experiences than they did. Diversity brings strength, and because of that more women are needed in the industry to make the right moves. There are many roles one can fulfil as an engineer; you just need to find the one that suits you best,” highlights Tshegofatso.
The theme for Women’s Day on 9 August is ‘Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future’. The concept of Generation Equality is a global campaign linking South Africa to global efforts to achieve gender equality by 2030. According to UN Women, this involves adopting and strengthening sound policies and enforceable legislation to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.
“At Zutari, we believe in creating an inclusive culture aimed at fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our development programmes are designed to support our objective of inspiring, engaging, and increasing its share of high potential female candidates. We progressively continue to help women overcome barriers by providing opportunities for high potential women to learn from the experiences of, and network with, women in leadership roles,” concludes Chief People Officer Dean Naidoo.