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About WomEng

WomEng develops and retains the pipeline of women engineering leaders through a series of robust programming and interventions at every stage of the pipeline. It is based in Sandton, South Africa.

WomEng Headquarter Location

2a 5th Avenue

Sandton, 2128,

South Africa

Latest WomEng News

Women In Engineering Fellowship Week: empowering the next generation of women innovators

Jul 13, 2015

Google introduces News Lab, a project to birth journalists on steroids Advertisement Co-founded by Hema Vallabh and Naadiya Moosajee in 2006, when they themselves were both engineering students, WomEng is a recognised non-profit organisation established to develop the next generation of engineering leaders. The core philosophy of WomEng is to provide engineering education – creating awareness and raising the profile of the engineering industry; attraction and retention of females into the engineering sector; skills and leadership development; innovative problem solving; mentorship and enterprise development within the engineering sector. The shortage of engineers is a global issue and the number of women in engineering is of particular concern as women are grossly under-represented in the industry. WomEng has created a targeted set of interventions to attract, develop and nurture the next generation of women engineering leaders and has been instrumental in developing strong female engineering talent pipelines. GirlEng was established with the aim of attracting high potential math and science students at school level, and nurtures and mentors them to enter the study of engineering, and been chosen as one of the finalists in the Qatar WISE Awards 2015 . The award recognises and promotes innovative projects addressing global challenges in education. The 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’s a thought-leadership platform and facilitates networking with top level CEOs, entrepreneurs and game-changers in their industry. The platform attracts top young talent and up-skills female engineering students to get them business ready. Moosajee and Vallabh “It’s all around employability,” said Moosajee. “Universities are lagging behind where the industry is now. For us it’s really important to up-skill the girls so that when they get into industry they thrive.” “Universities focus on the technical aspect of learning and for us it’s about thinking. We focus on teaching women how to purposefully apply that thinking and what they’ve learnt. It’s the first time they have practical application in real-world situations. Not as entry-level graduates, but as young professionals interacting with high-powered professionals, not only in engineering, but in a variety of disciplines. The programme leapfrogs about three to four years of learning, in one week.” The technical innovation challenge (technovation challenge) forms the backbone of the fellowship program, and provides student with first hand experience in working in a new engineering team with people from diverse backgrounds. This year’s technovation challenge was based on Engineering Technology for the Green Economy, focusing on the areas of climate change, energy, optimisation of resources or transitioning agricultural practices. The women were given access to business coaches from various sectors, an ideanation workshop and a pitching workshop to help them deliver a professional, winning pitch. The challenge culminated in a “pitch-off” with seed investment, mentoring and development available for the winning team. Judging the pitches were Dr Moin Hanif, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Cape Town; Gracia Munganga, Chemical Engineer and waste program manager at GreenCape and Dr Adeniyi Isafiade, Chemical Engineer and faculty member at the University of Cape Town engineering faculty. Takalani Ramakonye, a Mechanical Engineer from the Vaal University of Technology, headed up the winning team Green Gym, which makes use of self-powered piezo-electric generators inside the gym machines. While exercising, these generate power for the light-bulbs in the gym as well as for cellphone chargers on the machines. “I came in without any business sense,” said Ramakonye. “But I learnt that it’s not just about technical skills. You can also learn to be an entrepreneur.” The Fellowship Week programme exposed the women to a range of options that they were not aware of before. “What’s impacted me the most is learning skills that I lacked. I’ve always put myself into this Science and Engineering bubble but now my mindset has completely shifted from being in my bubble to “I can change the world. I can run businesses if I want to, I can be an entrepreneur and I can do whatever I set my mind to.” It was like something magical that shifted inside my mind. They’ve taught us so many lessons and I’ve actually implemented them. I’ve learnt how to pitch an idea and all the things that go into a business idea. I’ve learned about so many women who are so successful and who have families and that it’s not an issue that we have to worry about anymore — it’s not a stigma that we should put on ourselves as women. I also met such interesting people in the industry and women who have been where I am and who gave me encouragement and offered support,” said Yasmin Gafoor, a Chemical Engineering student from the University of Pretoria. Nyasha Chiraga, a Mechanical Engineering student from Zimbabwe who is studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said that the program had been a “life-changing event” for her. “I know so much more than when I got here. I learned about networking and pitching. I’m an introvert and I have a hard time talking to people, but I’ve grown – I’ve been talking to people, networking and putting myself out there,” said Chiraga. “We definitely see the impact on the industry. Our slogan is “Changing the face of engineering” and we are doing more than that – we are actually changing the face of the industry, said Vallabh. “Our corporate partners are able to recruit top engineering talent from the countries finest engineering minds who have undergone business ready training.” Simon Smith, Vice President Supply Chain Africa at Unilever South Africa hosted a dinner during the program. Also present to network with the women, were Unilever engineers who are alumni of the WomEng program. “Traditionally at Unilever most of our engineers have been men, and we’ve been trying to balance that out for a long time, to bring some diversity to our engineering core and to our business. We found there weren’t enough female students choosing to go into engineering. So our effort with WomEng comes together very nicely. Over the last 8 years we’ve recruited close to 30 women engineers through our association with WomEng. And that’s part of a much greater effort which is taking our diversity within our engineering core up from where it was many years ago at less than 10% female engineers, to close to 40% female engineers today. We’re making great progress and it’s not just about the numbers – it’s about the diversity and the innovation and the creativity – this leads to many more ideas and we’re going from strength to strength as a result,” said Smith. Jenisha Naidoo, an Aeronautical Engineer with Denel Dynamics, a WomEng partner, is also a WomEng alumna and mentor. “WomEng has offered us exposure to the best engineering talent in the country, because we know their selection process is so thorough,” she said. “Most people perceive this industry to be male-dominated but the great thing about WomEng is that they make it seem like it doesn’t matter whether you’re male of female — you can still enter this industry and do well,” said Naidoo. “What we like about taking WomEng women into our company is that they go through the whole process during the Fellowship Week of training with business and networking skills — other skills that they don’t learn at university — so they come into the workplace and they integrate easily,” said Naidoo. Zimkhita Buwa who heads up the Women’s Portfolio for Silicon Cape, was highly impressed with the level of participation from the WomEng Fellows. “I attended the Green Economy Panel Discussion and the kind of questions they were asking proved that they are innovative and are thinking of solutions for some of our most challenging issues facing our country. They are a group of intelligent and amazing women who will be the kind of future leaders that our country needs,” said Buwa. The Green Economy Panel WomEng has grown organically since its humble beginnings in 2006. “We started as students and we didn’t know much about the working world at that time, so it’s grown as we’ve grown. Since then, both of us have studied and worked abroad and we’ve broadened our experiences. We’ve brought those experiences into what we do. Everything we teach is experiential. It’s because we’ve ‘done’, hence we can teach,” said Vallabh. “We’re expanding globally — we’re already working in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. We’ll be running Fellowship Week in Kenya in October 2015. And we’re expanding across sectors. We’ve had a lot of feedback from graduates in other disciplines asking for our program. We’re about to launch a partnership with the finance sector for WomFin,” she said. “We’ve built WomEng on a social franchise model and our curriculum and programs are very scalable. We can take it anywhere as long as there is a team on the ground to host it and get it locally funded. We’ll provide the curriculum and the whole package and we’ll personally train the local team, working on a train the trainer concept, so that they can then train others,” said Moosajee. Moosajee is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and after meeting Paul Polman, global CEO of Unilever, at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, Polman posted the following on Twitter: “Great to see investment in women engineers in Africa. Talk about triple win. We simply need more @_womeng #unileverwomeng” “Next year is our 10th anniversary by which time we will have reached 10 000 women in engineering,” said Moosajee. Subscribe via email Regular news & updates from Memeburn delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email address below: SHARE

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