Being a Woman in a Male Dominated Field

Unathi water plant1Unathi, Nov 17 - It is interesting to be a female process controller. As we know in life many things have advantages and disadvantages and as for my case I have found many more advantages than disadvantages working with men, and being a woman amongst them has given me privileges in so many things. The kind of treatment I receive from them has been special as they feel they are obliged to help me in everything, as I am a woman. Not that they disrespect me or anything but rather they feel the need to help and protect, assisting me to lift heavy things.

When I first started working as a process controller I had the privilege to work with older men that I could regard as my elders. They treated me with love and respect. Without hesitation they showed me how things were operated that I didn't know how to operate. As for the younger men though it has been a different story; more of a challenge than a privilege to work with them as they will not shy away to point out that in certain things they will not help because I chose to be here. It's more like they refuse to accept me as their senior because I'm a woman and they refuse to complete certain duties I ask them to do on time. I have no complaints though; it comes with the job. These kinds of men are of a small group and I believe as time goes they will grow and their attitude will improve. 

What I find difficult about my job are the physical duties I have to perform in awkward places. In some cases even very high heights, working with sludge, going down in pump stations having to unblock a strainer in a pump, the unblocking of bio -filter arms, changing chlorine gas cylinders and helping with the off loading of pumps etc. It becomes very challenging to me as the duties involve a lot of physical strength that at times my body would fail me as my physique is not as muscular as a man.

As a woman working in this field it has ultimately been nothing but a privilege. In the work place you need to be able to work on your own and to be able to work in a team, to put your differences aside and be a team player. I have learned to respect myself and respect others. I have come to know my strengths and have come to know my weaknesses. At my work place to work as a woman and work as a man has taught me to be strong even with my life outside work. Not that I'm a hard cookie to crack but I have been tolerant and strong in matters I needed to be.

My experience in this field has taught me a lot but most importantly I have learned to be humble as I work with people with low education or no education at all as some can't read or write very well. I have come to respect everyone with or without education because every individual has a God given wisdom that has been given in order to equip us to maneouver through the struggles of life. The experiences they have gained over their life are their wisdom and that makes them who they are. These experiences have been very helpful at work because they have helped us as a team to solve problems we have at work. The skills they bring forward, the skills they have learned without any formal training have taught me a lot and made me challenge myself more.

TWA: Thank you to the Learner who shared her story with us.