Diamond company De Beers said on Monday it had launched a three-year partnership with Women in Engineering (WomEng), consumer goods company Unilever and professional services firm EY to develop the next generation of highly skilled female engineers.
De Beers is investing US$315,000 over three years in programmes that encourage young women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects and pursue engineering careers in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, said spokesperson Jackie Mapiloko.
She said the programme was designed to strengthen the students’ employability and leadership skills and cultivate innovative entrepreneurial thinking through the WomEng Innovation Challenge, in which they would develop an engineering business solution to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals.
With a global shortage of engineers and women representing only 11% of the engineering workforce, attracting more young women into the sector is vital, De Beers senior vice-president for social impact Katie Fergusson said.
“In our fast-changing world, we need diversity of thought to find new solutions, so we are therefore thrilled to be able to partner with WomEng and play a role in supporting the next generation of talented engineers who will play a critical role in shaping the future,” she said.
De Beers hosted 60 female pre-and-post graduate engineering students from South Africa, Botswana and Namibia at its Johannesburg head office last Thursday to learn more about the company and the diamond value chain.
Managing director of De Beers group managed operations Mpumi Zikalala took the aspiring engineers through her own journey in the mining industry.
“The world you are about to enter into requires passion, dedication and hard work, but you must always remember not to compromise who you are along this journey – always stick to your values,” she told the young women in comments incorporated in the De Beers statement.
“I am very proud to be part of a company that is driven by its purpose to re-imagining mining to change people’s lives. We are also committed to empowering women and girls and I hope you take this opportunity to learn and become the best versions of yourselves.”
Mapiloko said next month a series of workshops facilitated by engineers, students and the WomEng team would target 200 girls per session in schools around De Beers’ operations in Musina, South Africa, Windhoek, Namibia, as well as Orapa and Jwaneng in Botswana.
She said WomEng, founded in South Africa in 2006, had run programmes in 19 countries and reached more than 50,000 girls and women studying Stem subjects and was currently partnering with Unesco on its “1 Million Girls in Stem” campaign.
– African News Agency