Engineering is a key driver for sustainable development, growth and economic development, yet the continent’s full workforce potential is not being utilised. Women make up less than 10% of the engineering professionals in sub-Saharan Africa. WomEng is working to transform the engineering workforce to represent the societies we live in.
In 2018, WomEng, as a recipient of a grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Catalyst programme, initiated “Capacity Building for Women in Engineering Bodies in Sub-Saharan Africa” as a response to the low participation levels of women in engineering across the continent. It is estimated that women make up less than 10% of engineering professionals in sub-Saharan Africa. Engineering is a key driver for sustainable development, growth and economic development, yet the continent’s full workforce potential is not being utilised. Most professional engineering institutions are committed to developing gender diversity and inclusion by establishing dedicated Women in Engineering bodies however progress has been relatively slow. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for engineering innovation across sub-Saharan Africa; making our mission to build diverse and inclusive engineering talent pipelines even more vital and supporting the transformation of the engineering industry around the world.
Our Best Practice Report is a culmination of learnings and insights from working with Women in Engineering (WIE) bodies in eSwatini, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe between January 2018 and September 2020 building on 15 years of experience in diversity and inclusion in engineering. The key focus of this project was to improve the capacity of engineering bodies to promote gender diversity, inclusion and relevance within engineering and among engineering professionals in the selected countries. A series of gender diversity workshops, leadership development and capacity building for WIE members and outreach initiatives for secondary school and tertiary level engineering students were conducted with the respective WIE bodies.
Based on the findings in this report, we believe there are three (3) priority actions that if tackled by women in engineering bodies, will achieve sustained growth in changing mindsets, ways of working and culture, namely:
- Build stronger communities: We need to rethink how we support our communities across the continent to share and connect with each other; to find mentors and become mentors; to document experiences and lessons.
- Develop collaborative industry partnerships: Women in engineering bodies need to leverage the business case for gender diversity and inclusion in engineering to develop strategic industry partnerships which could lead to a sustainable source of funding.
- Drive policy change: Women in engineering bodies need to driving policy change globally in order to lobby governments on the ground.
This project, Capacity Building for Women in Engineering Bodies in Sub-Saharan Africa has successfully highlighted the positive impact created when champions at all levels work together. WomEng will continue to create global advocacy and support for a diverse and inclusion engineering industry, while empowering local women engineers on the ground to develop the next generation of women engineers and truly transform the sector.
To download the full report, click here