Women engineers raise alarm bells over gender bias at work

Monday October 7 2019


In vocational training, the number of women learning basic skills in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) dominate men at 5 percent compared to 49 percent.PHOTO | Cyril NDEGEYA 

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Women in the engineering sector are raising concerns over prejudice and discrimination especially in the labour market, which they partly blame for the low numbers in the profession.

The National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda shows that only 34 per cent of women opt to study sciences in university, with those taking engineering being smaller at 23 per cent. However women learning basic skills in information and communication technology dominate at 51 per cent.

According to Gara Akaliza Keza, a founding member of Girls in ICT which was rebranded into Women in Tech Rwanda — a group which brings together female ICT entrepreneurs and professionals — prejudice and discrimination against women are common in the engineering sector.

“Women startups are highly affected especially in energy and computer engineering which are dominated by men; the majority of women end up quitting the career,” said Ms Keza. “It is common for male dominated sectors to form work cultures that leave women feeling unwelcome; I have seen men make rude, cruel, suggestive and sexist comments and get away with it and women in the room are expected to ignore it or be outcast by the rest of the team.”

Clients and team members presume that women cannot be in a leadership position or make high-level decisions terefore all decisions should be channeled to the men, she said.

Angelos Munezero, a communication service specialist in the Ministry of Information and Technology said government is enhancing women’s rights and safety online, strengthening co-ordination, monitoring & evaluation of women inclusion in technology to bridge the gender gaps in the sector.