If media reports on industry representation are to be believed, then Engineering is the most male-dominated sector in the STEM fields. This Women’s Month, Chelsey Turner, Segment Lead and Marketing Manager for the Infrastructure Segment at WorldsView, reflects on her experiences in the field and she believes that the future of women in engineering is bright.
Turner, who holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering) from the University of Pretoria was first drawn to the industry after shadowing a German engineer who was working on the Gautrain project at the time.
In 2020, Turner stepped into the Infrastructure Marketing Manager role at WorldsView, where she brings technical insights to the marketing team as well as leading the company’s infrastructure segment. She has used this opportunity to deepen her knowledge about the industry and the role that technology will play in the evolution of a smarter sector.
She has since been promoted to the role of Infrastructure Segment Lead. She welcomes the opportunity this new role will lend her and hopes to make positive changes for engineering in Africa by making technological contributions to the infrastructure industry in Africa.
“The Infrastructure Segment provides the platform for me to learn about the industry across Africa as a whole. This also exposes me to other industries like mining, energy and manufacturing,” she says. “Seeing what is possible through the use of technology is inspiring. Knowing that we can influence the adoption of technology in Africa is exciting because, ultimately, this will only bring about positive change for our continent,” she says.
Given the anticipated investment into infrastructure across Africa, Turner hopes that young engineers will be retained and trained to tackle industry challenges. “We must motivate them to stay in Africa because their skills add the greatest value to this continent,” she says. Yet skills retention will not be possible if the sector does not address the shortage of jobs and vacation work opportunities.
It’s also critical to inspire the next generation of engineers. Schools should encourage an interest in STEM careers through activities (e.g. trips to science museums), as well as adopt an approach that makes the principles of science exciting, rather than intimidating.
Turner is positive that more women are entering the profession and they’ll bring their aspirations for a fulfilling career into the field. “Fundamentally, women do think differently compared to men. It’s healthy for that thinking to be brought into innovative STEM fields. In fact, this extends beyond gender – it’s about all sorts of human diversity”.