As she works on helicopters, Agnesia Makgotla is methodically dismantling another stereotype and taking charge in a bastion of male dominance.
The daughter of a self-taught mechanic, who used to tell her she would never be able to take anything apart and put it back together, the young helicopter technician has a weight of responsibility on her shoulders.
She works for SA National Parks’ air wing team in the Kruger National Park and it is her call whether a chopper is safe to fly or not.
Given that these machines do some of the most dangerous flying in the world – often below treetop level on game capture or anti-poaching operations – it is a responsibility she takes very seriously.
Makgotla has an engineering degree – another rare achievement for a young woman in South Africa, where women doing “men’s work” are frowned on.
She achieved her technician certification after an apprenticeship at Denel Aviation. That state-owned company is doing good, and largely unheralded, work in offering training in technical fields to young people like Makgotla.
Her story, though, makes the point that we will not progress as a nation if we continue to sideline or ignore half of our population because they are women.