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News & Press: 2016 News Items

Women in Construction High Tea

Monday, 05 September 2016  
Posted by: Bert vd Heever
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Where are the Women?
By: Mahlasela Ramodike and Ronnie Siphika

In celebration of Women’s Month, on the 13th of August 2016, the ASAQS WITS Student Chapter held a Women in Construction High Tea as the first of engaging female students at WITS University with women in both the construction and property sectors; with the notion that women can play an integral role in socio-economic development and the transformation of the quantity surveying profession.

This high tea was attended by over 80 female students from the School of Construction Economics and Management at Wits University and UJ, studying in different disciplines such as Quantity Surveying, Property Studies and Construction Management.

The keynote speakers  who attended the event include Zanele Mabathoana, Senior Quantity Surveyor at Turner and Townsend; Mme Kelikile Kwinana, Chairperson at the South African Women in Construction (SAWIC) in Gauteng;  Chele Moyo, the Vice President (CPF and Research and Business Development) at Barclays Africa; Dorothy Buthelezi, Founder at Buyisithemba; Qhawelihle Mntwini, Construction Manager at Motheo Group and Lentsu Mmako, Quantity Surveyor- VSB Quantity Surveyors.

Traditionally, the construction  industry has been largely dominated by men and has often been perceived to be an industry that is not ideal for women and youth to enter. The theme of this high tea “building the future” was in part aimed at defying that notion while enforcing the idea that modern construction has something to offer for people of any age and gender.

It comes as no surprise that the room was filled with ladies (as they so love to be referred) with a burning passion and desire to share sentiments, ideas and advise from the older wiser generation to the youth that has already identified most of the prominent issues that are prevalent within the construction industry. Discrimination, Inequality, all forms and interpretations of Mistreatment in the workplace surely sound familiar to one’s ear to one that has been in the industry for an extended period of time, however, these issues have meandered all the way down to the young minds who are widely learned and exposed. Hence, the eagerness, importance and excitement to host and attend such an event. I must testify, this article may be written by a male, nonetheless, as one of the few privileged men who had access to the event, I was truly inspired and educated. It was truly a successful event.

The level of discrimination faced by women in the industry was revealed during a recent survey conducted by the Department of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying of the University of Johannesburg, which identified a host of barriers and constraints, ranging from unfairness in procurement and lack of access to finance and working capital, to nepotism and corruption

That is not all, women’s representation in the construction industry is shocking! Which begs the question: “Where are the women”? In partial response to this issue the key speakers provided an in-depth insight on the possible reasons and the current status of the Industry.

Let’s look at the Stats!

It is Chele Moyo who highlighted the following:

- 24% of Senior Roles are held by Women
- In Japan: this stats reduces to only 9%
- Russia, with the highest representation of women in Senior Management: stands at 43%.

Against the background of the women population assuming +50%, it is shocking to notice that all of the above stats stand below 50%. What is more, is that this can be traced across almost all sectors. One prominent reason behind this- which obviously stood out for most in the audience- is “Mom-Tax”. What is mom-tax you ask? Well, according to Moyo, it can be summed as a “price” every women pays for being a women: a price you pay for having a womb that you might want to use. Consequently, for this very reason many are excluded from large projects.

It does not end there: Zanele Mabathoana, who additionally took a more local view on this matter, indicated that only 12% of women in South Africa are involved in the Construction Industry. As if that is not worse enough, the 12% becomes even lesser when one eliminates the misrepresentation of women who are involved in HR, PA and other Administrative roles that are clearly non- technical (as opposed to that of site based technical roles like a site engineer/agent etc. which are dominated by the male counterparts). However, one should not be discouraged: After all, this apparent lack of women representation, according to Zanele, is an Opportunity that lies within the womb of this large, broad Industry.

Women are here to stay!

Talking on the topic: “The significance of Women in a male dominated industry: How do we ensure we become of notable presence?” Mme Kelikile Kwinanana adopted a more “motherly approach” in her presentation during the event. As such, speaking like a mother, I too found myself noting down a few points, or rather, pearls of wisdom that were uttered with warmth and love.

- If you are in the construction industry and you don’t like it: RUN AWAY! The construction Industry is very challenging. One needs to be passionate about their career if they are to excel, grow and succeed in this industry. “You’ve got to love what you do”, she said.

- You’ve got the responsibility to empower each other. Many women, in pursuit of staying/rising up the corporate ladder, like to pull each other down. In business, Mme Kelikile goes on to say, you need more friends than enemies.

- Lastly, stay womanly, don’t try to become Macho. Find your purpose: ask yourself why am I here, where do I see myself in the next 20 years? What are my personal traits? As an individual allow yourself to dream big or what she coined: Dream straight!  Yes, dream straight.

An affirmative statement to take note of…

We should not compete with men, we are going to stay in this Industry, we are not going anywhere, we are special, we are here, we are going to “sexify” this industry; we are going to intensify it and we are going to deliver!

Workshop and Panel Discussion

Arguably the most refreshing segments of the event was the workshop and the Panel Discussion. The exciting Workshop, centered on Personal Branding, was facilitated by Mrs Dorothy Buthelezi. In her own words, Mrs Buthelezi expressed the sentiment that “it is important for you to build a good character”. Something that we all agree with.

- Clear
- Consistent
- Constant

These are the three C’s of Personal Branding. The  Panel  Discussion,  on  the  other  hand, presented a platform in which the audience and the speakers could interact. With the seated panel consisting of: Qhawelihle Mntwini, a Candidate CM at Motheo Consytructiom Group; Lentsu Mmako, a Candidate QS at VSB Quantity Surveyors; Karen Malope, ASAQS WSC Executive Member; Zanele, Moyo and kelikile (our speakers), and Facilitated by our very own Colleen Chauke (ASAQS WSC Sub-com) the tough questions from the audience were sure to be handled with skill, care and knowledge.

#WIC Pictures!!!
For more Pictures visit:   Facebook: ASAQS Wits Student Chapter Instagram: asaqs_wits Twitter: asaqs_wits 

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Author: Ronnie Siphika (Chairperson)
Editor: Mahlasela Ramodike (Deputy Chairperson)