International Women in Engineering Day by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) celebrates its 10th year in 2023, promoting the amazing work of women engineers across the globe. INWED gives women engineers around the world a profile while they are still hugely under-represented. As the only platform of its kind, it plays a vital role in encouraging more young women and girls to take up engineering careers.


Engineering has traditionally been very male dominated, with the percentage of female engineers at universities and in the workplace substantially lower than it should be. ABB has been working to diversify the engineering industry by creating opportunities for women in its sphere of influence.

Image by Pexels | Mikael Blomkvist

Pexels | Mikael Blomkvist

In response to South Africa’s high unemployment rates and the lack of female engineers, the company has a range of skills development initiatives in Southern Africa. These include the company’s JDF scholarships and learnerships, a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Zambia, P1/P2 engineering training, together with the company’s Engineer in Training and Learnership for Disabled Graduates.

The company’s diversity and inclusion 2030 targets include 50% university hires, 25 % women in ABB leadership (19% by 2025), well established policies, a yearly improvement of the inclusion score in the employees’ engagement survey, and 100% access to employee resource and affinity groups.

ABB plans to help solve some of the biggest global challenges of our time, saying that this is only possible through its exceptional people who work every day towards this goal, based on a culture of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity, which is critical to business success. In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on 23 June, ABB highlighted three individuals who are making a significant contribution to the success of the company in numerous ways.

Dipuo Harriet Masilo, laser engraving machine operator:

Dipuo Harriet Masilo, laser engraving machine operator: Image by ABB

Dipuo Harriet Masilo, laser engraving machine operator:

As a machine operator, Masilo designs, manufactures and prints labels for the company’s switchgear units, which are used to supply power to various government-owned entities and privately owned mines. She works in the ELDS production factory along with the fabrication, assembly, wiring and testing departments. “They call me ‘the label specialist lady’ and I am very proud of our team,” says Masilo.

“I am a woman with many talents, like my passion for making things with accuracy, precision and quality.” Her interest in using software was ignited while working as a software programmer for laser measuring units before joining ABB as a laser engraving machine operator. “The work that I do here is very challenging and needs a person with passion and understanding, and who is highly efficient. I love my work,” says Masilo.

“I have learnt a lot about understanding people’s behaviour and their different personalities, also to have patience with people and to be firm and precise in all my dealings with them.” She adds that the basic PM course she undertook at UCT taught her that managing a project drives you to be more attentive, knowledgeable and organised, especially when it comes to achieving clear and meaningful objectives and outcomes.

“I have progressed from being a young, shy girl who started working at 17 immediately after college as a software programmer, to a production supervisor after six years’ of work experience, and now as a machine operator with a PM certificate and a proud mother of two talented boys,” says Masilo.

Jane Tshabangu, project planning and controls specialist:

Jane Tshabangu, project planning and controls specialist: Image credit: ABB

Jane Tshabangu, project planning and controls specialist:

Tshabangu is responsible for overseeing all production orders manufactured in-house at ABB’s Longmeadow, Johannesburg manufacturing facility. Her role includes ensuring copper is available on a just-in-time basis for panel plating and releasing all jobs for picking and placing by the production team.

“What keeps me passionate and excited about what I do is that I am always focused, making sure that nothing holds up production as they rely on me to coordinate the workload,” says Tshabangu, who focuses on teamwork, problem solving and communication as her core competencies.

Tshabangu began her career at the company in 2006 as an expeditor, responsible for outstanding purchase orders, following up on deliveries and liaising with the buyers. In 2009 she was promoted to planner and then in 2017 assumed her current position.

“I would like to see more women in high-level positions,” she adds. Her message to young women contemplating a similar career path is simple, “Speak up in a way that is powerful and get to know your rights as a woman and fight for them!”

Dineo Maphaka, production development specialist:

Dineo Maphaka, production development specialist: Image credit: ABB

Dineo Maphaka, production development specialist:

Maphaka works with the fabrication team in the electrification division. She compiles programs for the CNC punching machines while keeping an eye on reducing the scrap rate. Her job is to ensure a smooth production process for all the components needed for switchgear assembly.

“Every project brings an opportunity for me to learn something new and work with different people. As our products do not always use standard components, this gives me an opportunity to expand my skills,” says Maphaka. Her career highlights at ABB include progressing from a wire lady to her current role. She was also nominated for an internal award for achieving a significant reduction in the overall scrap rate.

Maphaka has a diploma in Electrical Engineering and a certificate in writing Computer Numerical Control (CNC) code for lathe machines. Prior to working at the company, she was a CNC operator, setter and programmer for both CNC lathe and milling machines. Her career journey at the company began as a contractor and working as a wire lady until appointed permanently in her current role in 2021. “It took many years and learning to be where I am right now. I have put in the hard work to ensure that I excel in any position I am in,” says Maphaka.

Her advice to young women is to “be assertive, confident, and level-headed. Speak out if you do not understand anything at work. Let us be brave! There are a lot of opportunities for women today. It is all up to us to go out there and grab them.”

The percentage of female engineers at universities and in the workplace is substantially lower than it should be.


Technology solutions provider Rosond of Midrand highlighted how it is pioneering diversity and inclusion in the mining industry, in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED)1 on 23 June. “Progress is likely to be optimised by driving Mine Health and Safety Act policy change to consider technology and automation,” said Rosond MD Ricardo Ribeiro.

Held under the banner of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), INWED celebrates its 10th year in 2023, yet again promoting the amazing work being carried out by women engineers across the globe under the theme of ‘Make Safety Seen’.

“Diversity in the workplace and the inclusivity of women is a business imperative,” said Ribeiro. While the mining industry is making great strides to achieve greater gender equality in terms of women at middle and senior management level, the real impact lies at grassroots level.

At board level, women representation may reach as high as 50%, but at the lower employment levels in the mining industry there is still a lot of work to be done. “We have been very passionate about making a difference at this level and our efforts are starting to reap real rewards,” said Ribeiro.

At a major iron ore mining operation in the Northern Cape, Rosond employs 42 women in a range of positions. This includes two safety officers, a foreperson (a geologist by profession), a logistics co-ordinator, 19 drill machine assistants, three operators, an assistant operator, a bit sharpener and a safety representative. One of the employees is disabled and the balance fulfil various administrative and office support roles.

Bolokang Mere in action on the next-generation Rosond drill rig.

Bolokang Mere in action on the next-generation Rosond drill rig. Image credit: Rosond

“Bearing in mind that it takes a minimum of five years’ experience to develop into a proficient drill operator, we are pleased with the performance of our female team members who thus far have two to three years’ experience,” said Ribeiro.

He added that the company is particularly proud of its work in upskilling women and creating opportunities for them to be successful in roles traditionally performed by men. It ranges from creating greater access to these positions and making significant progress in increasing the number of women working at operational level.

Creating a more inclusive work environment in the mining industry requires even greater upskilling and a sensitivity to the socioeconomic and family issues women face daily. It means adopting a sensitive and appreciative view of the reality women are confronted with. Ribeiro explained, “A lot of these women were sitting at home with no job prospects. Developing them further, in conjunction with family planning and financial planning, is key to their career success.”

As part of the company’s commitment to addressing these gaps, it has established an inaugural women’s forum at a drill site in the Northern Cape to provide a platform to address ancillary issues. “There is a lot of responsibility involved in promoting gender equality in the mining industry, especially as we afford women the opportunity to be financially independent and to have viable careers,” said Ribeiro.

The women’s forum consolidates all Rosond’s learnings on-site to date in terms of gender diversity and inclusivity. It allows it to continue to offer a sustainable and empowering career path for women in mining. “We invest a lot of time and resources training women to become proficient in the drilling industry. In this regard, we have embarked on a gender inclusivity programme that includes workshops on gender sensitivity,” said Ribeiro.

Apart from the female drill rig crews themselves, another way for the company to promote gender diversity and inclusivity in the mining value chain is to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are established and driven by women.

Here, the company is empowering SMEs by providing them with the equipment and services they require to essentially become accredited partners. Rosond is making significant progress in this area as part of its partnership with WiMBIZ, SA. This is an organisation established to create a platform for women entrepreneurs, businesswomen and professional women to speak in one voice and access procurement opportunities and equity transactions in the mining sector.

The company is adding significant value to WiMBIZ, SA through its knowledge of the industry, networks and valuable strategic input. In addition, it recently concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two WiMBIZ, SA members as part of its enterprise development initiatives in exploration drilling.

“Not only does it allow these smaller, women-led players to tender for bigger projects, it also gives the mining houses themselves the confidence that there is a major player such as us in the background driving the process,” said Ribeiro.

He notes that achieving gender equality in the industry remains challenging. “Experience on the ground has shown us that the focus should not only be on increasing the number of women in skilled positions, but also on how to support these women through the intelligent design of programmes, especially around family planning and financial planning, that enable them to grow and achieve greater success at work.

“There is a richness to decision-making through diversity. Specifically having women in the drilling workplace means that our company benefits from different points of view through different approaches and life experiences. Creativity and innovation are enhanced. We have also found that the men on the teams benefit from working with and learning from women in a traditionally male-dominated work environment,” concluded Ribeiro.