Despite instances of being marginalized and discriminated against in the past by her counterparts because of her gender, one WSU manager has stood steadfast against gender-based bias.

Speaking about her experience as a leader in the traditionally male dominated field  where brawn on most days can be the most valuable currency, BCC Deputy Director for Operations and ICT Veliswa Ngalwa said being a woman heading a unit overwhelmingly dominated by men has proven a tough task.

“Men sometimes find it difficult to take instructions from women because they take everything for granted. I’ll often give an instruction for someone to deal with some work, but you’ll find that the person is personalizing this and looks at it in terms of his muscularity,” said Ngalwa.

The staff complement at the unit currently stands at a total of 35, consisting of 28 men (80%) and seven women (20%). A paltry total of four of the women are IT Technicians, whilst the rest are admin assistants and one a general labourer.
In light of these skewed numbers, Ngalwa said occasions such as Women’s Day were critical in laying a platform for a national discourse to measure the gains made in the past, but also further engage on interventions needed to improve on such misalignments.

“I would love to see more women being part of the industry. According to the statistics, there are many more men in this sector than females. As a woman I would like to see more woman being given an opportunity to showcase what we can do for our societies through the display of such skills,” she said.

Since her appointment in December 2017 to lead the Ops and ICT unit, following a thirteen-year spell as a lecturer at the institution’s Built Environment department, Ngalwa’s efforts have borne many a fruit.

Through numerous interventions, Ngalwa has lead the identifying of skills gaps in the unit and subsequent drawing up of job descriptions and advertising for hiring of new staff; performed numerous infrastructure repairs and renovations on campus; and reviewed the WSU Strategic Plan wherein she is currently looking at the condition assessment of the campus facilities leading up to the preparation of the Facilities Maintenance Management Plan.

“Getting to know and understand the complexities of BCC sites has proven critical in my ability to do my job optimally,” she said.

Ngalwa, a registered Professional Facilities Manager who holds a BTech Degree in Construction Management and currently studying towards a MSc Built Environment (only left with submitting her dissertation) in Facilities Management said she believes society is turning the tide towards luring and empowering in the Ops & ICT sector.

“The tide is turning in favour of women. We are closing the gap of imbalances within the profession because we’re being given the chance to fill managerial positions and prove our worth,” she concluded.

By: Thando Cezula

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