Women’s Day 2019 marks 63 years since the heroic Women’s March of 1956, in which 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest of apartheid pass laws. Forming part of a greater worldwide call for female empowerment and equality, South Africa, and the world, have seen great strides being made to uplift and empower women and integrate women more fairly and holistically into the working environment.
Since 1956, women have come to account for around 43,8% of total employment, 32% of managerial positions and 47,6% of employment in the informal sector in South Africa . While this shows acceleration in the movement towards equality in the work place, which is worth celebrating as much as the bravery displayed by our female forerunners in the March of 1956, there is still more room for growth and improvement.
In industries that have historically been perceived as male-orientated and male-dominant, women have started carving out a place for themselves, courageously going against the grain of traditional perceptions and actively pursuing their own successes within these previously restrictive industries. One such industry is the power industry. For the greater part of history, men have been more widely recognised for their competencies in the fields of science and mathematics, which lead to the widely-held belief that your more “intelligent” areas of study were better suited to men, whereas your more emotive-, creative- and domestic-orientated areas of study were exclusively for women. Luckily, women have begun to freely and confidently defy these perceptions, leading to an increase in female scientists and engineers, meaning a greater female presence in scientific and engineering-orientated industries. That’s not to mention the influx of female managers and business leaders who handle everyday operational responsibilities that were previously assigned exclusively to men.
We at Voltex have experienced first-hand this shift in the tides, with many of our operational, manufacturing and managerial staff being educated and empowered women, taking a stand against gender-restricted career practices and showing just how capable and insightful women employees can be in more industrious, male-orientated sectors. Indeed, the efforts made in educating, uplifting and equipping women over the last few decades are really starting to yield powerful results in the form of independent, empowered women ready to take any industry by storm.
While we are proud of how far we’ve come as a nation, of how women have started to shift perceptions and create new norms, and of how much more equal the working world has become overall, we know that this is just the beginning. Empowered women make for more empowered women as each and every one makes their voice heard in industries that previously disregarded them, meaning that it is just a matter of time before industries, such as the power industry, start seeing a massive influx of female employees and within just a few years, the new norm of having an equally representative workforce will be established. With such a bright future ahead, we can hardly wait to see what waves women will be making next.