By Funmi Ogundare
The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN), in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering recently held a stakeholders’ engagement with experts in the energy, automotive and aviation sectors, aimed at creating an enabling environment for better productivity for women to achieve excellence as engineers and leaders.
Speaking at the programme in Lagos, the President of the association, Dr. Elizabeth Eterigho stressed the importance of gender integration in the workplace, saying that it is key to creating a safe and respectful work environment.
According to her, “with women making up about 50 per cent of the world’s population and contributing significantly to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), their participation in leadership roles is crucial to achieving sustainable development goals.”
She described gender as an important part of human lives and workplaces, however, it’s still an issue especially in the workplace.
“Some standard policies don’t take into account the fact that women and men have different needs, and these policies can contribute to the continued marginalisation of women in male-dominated industries.”
She listed some of the ways the workplaces can be made welcoming for employees especially in a world where women are still underrepresented in leadership positions, through having clear policies in place that address gender equality and integrating gender into it.
“This will help ensure that all employees feel like they have a voice at work and can be treated fairly regardless of their gender identity or expression.
“Companies need to understand how their policies affect employees and how they can be improved by implementing gender-related features. When people feel like they’re being treated equally, they perform better and are more likely to stay with the company longer,” the president stated.
In her remarks, the Project Manager, Royal Academy of Engineering SheEngineer 30% Club, Dr. Felicia Agubata, a former President of APWEN, said it plans to enlist 100 female engineers into the club; empower 300 participants through its various training programmes; have at least 30 SheEngineer 30% club compliant organisations in Lagos by March 2023; raise at least 30 female engineering mentors for club members, as well as take the message to all tertiary institutions in Lagos State.
“Our plan is to gather data through the aerospace, automobile and energy sectors in Lagos. We also intend to partner employers, policy makers and educators to create an inclusive learning environment and get engineering companies to develop a diversity and inclusion policy; and create SheEngineer 30 club that will be launched to get companies’ commitment to have at least 30 per cent female on board.”
Part of its plans, Agubata added, will be a one week work shadowing in aerospace/aviation/energy industries for secondary school students.
“We intend to take 10 girls and place them in different engineering departments to ignite their passion and get them set for a possible career in engineering. This will allow them experience different sectors taking cognisance of health and safety issues.
“We are also developing capacity of practicing female engineers, women engineers returning to work through training on leadership, personal branding, developing strategy and building skill for effective communication management through career clinics,” the team lead stated.
She said the efforts will open up more job opportunities and roles for women in the engineering sector, act as a pipeline to supply more women into the industry, develop a holistic programme that will focus on advocacy and social visibility for female engineers, work to increase organisations and businesses understanding of the role of women in engineering, as well as set up a support and reward system for aspiring and practicing women in engineering.
“We need to be intentional to get women into the workforce,” she said.
In his keynote, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Turtle Aviation, Dr Daniel Young described APWEN as a source of pride to the country, adding that there is need for Inclusive programmes that will make women not to be left behind. (ThisDay)