The Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has noted with dismay the comments made by Manglin Pillay, the CEO of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE), in which he questions government's efforts to invest in attracting women into the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

 

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane believes the suggestion that women have no place in the field of engineering smacks of sexism and perpetuates the notion that women are better off as mere caregivers who cannot compete with their male counterparts as professionals.

 

In his column, "Out on a rib", Mr Pillay selectively quotes various studies in an apparent attempt to discourage women from pursuing careers in fields such as mechanical engineering for which men, according to Mr Pillay's argument, are better suited.  Instead of expending his energy in finding ways to rid the industry of gender inequality, Mr Pillay chooses to betray his ignorance of the history of gender discrimination in all sectors of the economy, not only in South Africa but across the world.

 

This reverses efforts in society to tilt the scales and ensure that women, who constitute half of the population, receive equal recognition in the workplace and are not blocked from ascending to managerial positions that are still dominated by men.

 

The Minister emphasises the need to celebrate women instead of discouraging them.  As a senior stakeholder in the engineering space, Mr Pillay should be championing transformation instead of questioning efforts by government to increase the number of women in STEM.

 

In her first month as Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Kubayi-Ngubane held engagements with the Gauteng chapter of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers, where women representatives pleaded for an intensified effort to tackle gender disparities in the industry.  The Minister will do everything in her power to ensure that the Department of Science and Technology takes gender mainstreaming into account in all its programmes and continues to provide support to women and girls to pursue careers in STEM.

 

Issued by the Department of Science and Technology.

Hlengiwe Nhlabathi

Ministerial Spokesperson

Tel:  012 843 6809

Mobile:  084 708 4214

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