Women in engineering: growth through influence

August 2023 News

As we traverse our vibrant environment of inclusivity, living a legacy, engagement, and creating empowering opportunities, we get a sense that the tides have changed, and we are only now realising the impact of the footprints left behind. We all know the saying “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Here’s my take on the current reality for many women. How about “stepping into the footprints of compassion as we celebrate the heroines in engineering who paved the way for growth, upliftment and visionary thinking”. That definitely sounds so much more inclusive and intentional. Take Sibongile Nong for example. She is not only into salsa dancing and personal development while succeeding as a philanthropist, motivational speaker and innovator, but also the founder and CEO of Fasbuilt.

Dr Arthie Moore-Robberts.

She has 22 years of experience in the civil engineering field and is passionate about technology and innovation in the engineering space. She has worked in both the public and private sectors, and is among the first few women in South Africa that have experience and specialise in innovative technology building (IBT). What intrigued me about her story was that her company, one of South Africa’s Top Gender Empowered Companies, has also won the award for Disrupter of the Year in 4IR at CWENA’s 8th Annual Business Inspiration Conference.

When asked to describe the difference she is making as a female engineer, she answered in a way that made so much sense. She said: “I have been coaching 50 and more women on how to do construction using innovative building technology, working with Tshwane University of Technology and UN Women. I appoint other women to subcontract when I have projects, and continue to mentor them as I believe we need more women in the innovative building space.”

So why does this heartwarming story stand out for us? It’s simple really. There are many more inspirational women out there that we can use as role models. We are so busy exploring agility and innovation in the IT, engineering, manufacturing and mechatronics space that we have overlooked the innovative strides made by women-run businesses. By demonstrating the tremendous value they are adding to this fascinating dialogue, they highlight the desperate need to engage in more meaningful conversations about inclusivity.

So where does compassion fit in, you may ask? Well, my personal belief is that it is a no-brainer approach as we seek to change the status quo and encourage reverse mentoring, sharing of skills, expertise and knowledge from both sides of the spectrum. Here we are dealing with the intricacies of technology and engineering that will bring phenomenal changes and development for our future lifestyles. The part we forget though, is the human experience. The very people who bring solutions for an upgraded life have also been the beneficiaries of brilliant minds, nurturing ideas, unusual approaches and mentorship.

As I interact with various organisations globally, I am always intrigued by the growth mindset that many women in the industry have. There is prosperity in abundance, and the best part is that there is hope too. I listened to Shelley Marsh, co-founder of Knowledge Mentoring Global, who runs the Women in the Built Environment (WITBE) programme. I began to realise that readily-available knowledge related to social impact, socio-economic development and global networks in favour of women is a reality and just needs the right connections and visibility. The app that WITBE developed brings mentoring to life with a focus on knowledge-intensive environments such as engineering and construction. It integrates learning networks and key relationships to meet the complex needs of any organisation.

What I really want to stress though, is that the legacy of growth is upon us. It is an exciting time to be developing, stretching our mindsets, overcoming obstacles, challenging complacency, and grounding ourselves in the abundance mentality that is our birthright.

Where to from here? Global impact and influence, levelling the playfield with compassion, a sprinkling of assertiveness, a healthy dose of self-confidence, and a huge helping of unconditional support for our fellow human beings. Together, we will, and must, conquer.

Dr Moore-Robberts has a doctorate in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion from Oxbridge Institute for Professionals (UK). She is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, author, and founder of Celebrating Humanity International and Ki Leadership International. She is also an international keynote speaker, leadership coach, and diversity and inclusion specialist. She has her own weekly live radio show in the USA with International Business Growth (IBGR) Network. Her impact expands to top levels of government, boards of directors, universities, schools, orphanages, youth and women empowerment programmes. Some of her specialist programmes are currently being implemented in Lebanon, Ireland, UK, USA, Bangladesh and Pakistan, in line with her personal vision.

Her Compassionate Leaders of Influence programme is being implemented in Lebanon, Ireland, UK, USA, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

She has a Distinguished Fellow Award from Oxbridge Institute for Professionals.

Some of her other awards include Influential Women of the Year 2020 (SA); Nation Builders Award 2020 (SA); and Global Presence Ambassador 2020 (USA). Her work has been published as Editors Choice in Mo2vate Magazine (UK).

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