Building sector remains male dominated in SA

The Council for the Built Environment (CBE) was at pains this week trying to convince legislators that it was making significant progress in bringing more women into the construction sector.

The data from the entity shows that 86% of registered engineers are male and just 14% are women. When it comes to race, 62% of registered engineers were made up of whites, 25% Africans, 9% Indians and 4% were coloureds.

The construction industry has historically been unwelcoming to women. In 2014, the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) reported that 70% of the women who graduated with engineering degrees left the profession after starting their careers because they felt isolated in their jobs.

The CBE will on Tuesday host a women economic empowerment and gender inequality webinar under the theme: “Shattering the Glass Ceiling in the Built Environment Professions” to deal with issues facing women in the industry.

“Like any other professions in the country, the built environment sector is facing serious challenges: Slow pace of transformation, ageing personnel, shortage of critical skills and high unemployment rates, especially amongst our youth, said Msizi Myeza, the CEO at the CBE.

“It is important for the sector to take strides and develop strategies to address crucial issues identified in the skills pipeline strategy for the built environment, especially gender representation, participation, and retention.”

He added that one of the major obstacles that women encounter in the workforce include sexual harassment, inflexible work practices, lack of sanitary facilities on construction sites and the masculine culture of the industry.

“The CBE believes achieving gender equality in the built environment requires a multi-pronged approach, combining hard and soft laws, strategies, including setting of
targets that are enforced and monitored. The CBE encourages built environment professionals and councils to champion transformation by positioning themselves as an agent for the change we desire to see in the profession.”

Recently, Tétris South Africa and Nuvo Consulting celebrated women-led collaboration to deliver one of the country’s biggest office projects to date. The Liberty Braamfontein project delivered in record time, and under budget.

The partnership was between Nuvo Consulting, Tétris Design and Build and BDG – three women-led companies.

Melanie Heiberg – on-site Tétris project team leader; Babalwa Solembela – Nuvo construction manager along with Daleen Visagie coordinated the efforts of around 230 contractors, of which up to 100 were women.

Sarene Nel, MD of Tétris, said: “Taking in 41,000m2 over five floors and more than 25 types of workspaces, the successful completion of this project for Liberty is hugely gratifying. It’s a project made all the more rewarding because it involved the hard work, expertise, and creativity of hundreds of women and women-led businesses.”

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