Women in Engineering (WomEng), is a recognized non-profit organization working over the last 9 years to develop the next generation of engineering leaders in society. Through its proactive, needs driven bottom up approach; WomEng has been instrumental in developing strong female engineering talent pipelines. Historically, WomEng has run more programs in South Africa, with WomEng Kenya rolling out programs in 2014. This dynamic organisation is set to roll out in other countries, especially in Africa, as an appropriate solution to the skills needs on the continent. At the heart of the organisation is its core philosophy, which provides the framework for all its activities. These include:
The shortage of engineers is a global issue. The number of women in engineering has been of particular concern as women are still grossly under-represented, with the percentage of women graduates in engineering still below 20% in many countries, and the number of women in the sector being much lower. According to many commentators, growth in the areas of science, engineering and technology could be the catalyst for job creation, social upliftment and economic development. In a global economy with rising unemployment and a desperate need of scarce skills, increasing the number of women in engineering within any company or country is a competitive advantage. An increase in the number of female engineers not only assists with the critical skills gap but has further ramifications such as service delivery and adequate access to basic services, provide more collaborative approaches to solutions and women engineers provide value in creating products which are better suited to targeting the 52% of the population who hold 80% of household purchasing power (i.e Women)
How WomEng Works
WomEng has created a targeted set of interventions to attract, develop and nurture the next generation of women engineering leaders. Through the WomEng pipeline, we have created GirlEng, which attracts high potential math and science students, nurtures and mentors them to enter the study of engineering. Our WomEng Fellowship is an annual technical innovation challenge for the best and brightest female engineering students to find solutions to global challenges and develop and prepare for industry. It is a great platform to attract top young talent and up-skill these young students to get them business ready. Finally, @Network has created a platform for both male and female engineers to not only network but also engage in pertinent topics affecting the engineering industry, as well as looking for new opportunities. Mentorship is the golden thread that ties all our programs together and is a pivotal component in every program currently run at WomEng.
WomEng prides itself as an innovative organisation which provides a tailor-made response to increasing the awareness around engineering, and developing the next generation of women engineers and leaders in Africa.
Mentorship is a core theme, which runs across the entire organisation. Each year, WomEng trains mentors to work with high school students. These mentors comprise female engineering university students, some of whom are beneficiaries of our GirlEng program now studying engineering and wanting to give back to their communities. WomEng hosts training for industry representatives who would like to be mentors, as well as training for mentees at a high school and university level.
Other training programs for local volunteer teams running programs provide cognitive and behavioral skills training. Through our training programs, WomEng has developed young women leaders. We have already reaped the rewards as these young women have been recognized on various platforms won prestigious leadership awards. These young women are agents of change and WomEng is committed to developing their leadership potential.
The GirlEng Information Session is one of the most cost-effective tools we use to create awareness around engineering. The one-day sessions expose high school students to the broad world of engineering and they have the opportunity to hear the stories of our top engineering students and young engineers who serve as inspiration. The second type of information sessions which WomEng engages in, is through our partnerships and being involved at university career fairs and university open days. WomEng also conducts school visits to create greater awareness.
GirlEng weekend workshops are a pivotal part of the program. The aim of the program is to:
The aim of the workshop speaks to the core of WomEng which is “igniting the engineering flame,” mentorship and creating a society of innovative thinkers.
@Network is a division catering for engineering professionals. The aim of the division is two fold; to create a platform for industry networking and to start opening dialogue and discussions on pertinent topics within the engineering environment. Furthermore, @network has provided workshops for young engineering professions.
The WomEng Fellowship remains the only program, which caters for both providing the top female engineering students with the necessary life and business skills to succeed in industry, and also provide a platform for innovative thinking through the technical challenge.
The technical innovation challenge, which forms the backbone of the fellowship program, provides student with first hand experience in working in a new engineering team with people from diverse backgrounds. The aim is to have the 60 hand picked delegates provide innovative solutions to real world problems. Other critical skills such as pitching an idea, presentation skills and meeting clients expectations are learnt through this intense week.
An added bonus for the WomEng Fellowship is that our corporate partners are able to recruit top engineering talent from the countries finest engineering minds who have undergone business ready training. WomEng exposes students to the working environment, and partners are able to present their companies and the latest opportunities available.
The need for targeted programs to attract more girls into engineering and to retain female engineers has drawn global attention. As such, WomEng, together with our partners, will be sharing the invaluable lessons learnt in South Africa and packaging programs for Africa. The first country to launch a sister organisation was Kenya with a vision to take WomEng programs across the globe to where it is needed.
Each country program is carefully developed and localized to address the needs on the ground. The programs have local ownership; they are locally driven, and have the complete support and mentorship from the WomEng Global Team. Each country may not have the full scale of programing but it is envisaged that within 2 years, each country would be self-reliant to roll out and develop targeted program not just within their own country, but also within the region.
As Kenya continues to develop, with a group of passionate young engineers on the ground, WomEng looks towards starting to develop a West African presence to bring the same programmatic approach to developing West African women in engineering. Furthermore, through partnerships with UNESCO and the International Youth Foundation, WomEng is able to scale to other countries, making it a truly global organisation.
WomEng has created lasting industry partnerships with a host of the top engineering companies in South Africa and Kenya. Together we have revolutionized the face of engineering and positively influence over 2000 beneficiaries per annum. Besides WomEng being a great CSI (corporate social investment) organisation, it is making a lasting impact on the engineering environment and has helped partners reap numerous rewards.
WomEng is an authentic organisation for women engineering by predominantly women engineers who have developed programs to address the issues facing women in the engineering sector from high school level all the way through to industry. Being a young, dynamic organisation, WomEng has been able to meet the changing demands and needs of a global engineering industry. Through its programmatic and pragmatic approach, WomEng has been able to deliver cost-effective programing and has a track record of over 9 years in developing programs that work. It is a financially transparent organisation, which a strong board of directors, and its unique volunteer model ensures lasting impact created by passionate people. WomEng corporate partners have been able to experience true rewards and benefits including:
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