To celebrate this year's International Women's Day (March 9), 10 young women from the GO!Durban Cycle Academy attended an inspiring career guidance session at engineering firm, AECOM in Umhlanga in partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation.
The day marks a call to action to raise awareness against bias and to accelerate gender equality in working towards a more balanced world ( ). By investing in grassroots development, AECOM is actively empowering women by sharing the achievements of its own employees and encouraging more young women to become future leaders in the profession.
The girls, aged between 12 and17, were exposed to the world of engineering and the multitude of career opportunities that exist for women within the industry, with the purpose of helping them to make informed career choices and to make an early head start in planning their careers. They were introduced to a number of facets in the industry including project management, architecture, structural engineering, mechanical engineering, water and civil engineering, and quantity surveying.
"A structured exposure to the workplace can significantly contribute towards motivating girls from lower economic backgrounds to take up careers that are in demand in the economy and where women are under-represented," explains Senika Devsheel, HR Director at AECOM Africa. "This can lead to sustained employment and in so doing, break the cycle of poverty for these girls and their families. This also contributes to creating a more gender-balanced workplace, particularly in the engineering industry, where bias towards women is still a challenge."
"These young women have very limited exposure to life outside their township surroundings, so the GO!Durban Cycle Academy aims to shift their mindsets at a young age through cycling skills and academic support," explains Tennille Taylor, Marketing & Communications Manager of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy. "Opportunities such as this benefit our young women greatly because it stretches their imaginations and helps them to believe in goals that they never would have had before. It also helps them practically to make better subject choices at school and to aim for the best grades possible so that tertiary education becomes a realistic option for them."
"Together with investment from partners like AECOM, we hope that we can close the gender gap in sports, education and the workplace within our generation."