As a way of celebrating and encouraging the womenfolk, professionals in the built industry have indicated that contemporary female engineers have defiled the old myth that construction work is not meant for women.
According to Kunle Awobodu, CEO, Reo-Habilis Construction Ltd and vice president, Nigeria Institute of Building (NIoB), though subtle gender discrimination still exists in the construction industry, especially in conservative countries like Nigeria, it doesn’t have anything to do with their suitability but with the men who superintend over site management.
He noted that some men see site work as too technical, stressful and risky for women, putting to question their ability to cope with such works and making it difficult for female engineers, builders, and surveyors to secure site jobs.
He recounted that tactically, some developers reject them; claiming that they might not be able to exercise control over the workforce, which is perceived to be male-dominated. The Builder said the developers would ask, how possible it is, for women to control the obdurate artisans and gangers?
Awobodu, however, revealed that these have nothing to do with the woman’s performance on sites. Citing Angela Ifeoma Muotoh, a female undergraduate of Building Technology from YabaTech, who works with their company and whom he described as possessing an indomitable spirit, as a reference point, he noted that he could not help but cogitate over gender insensitivity, equality and risk mitigation on the construction sites.
“Construction work is not meant for women? Perish the thought. Employers in the construction industry should not debar women from actualising their dreams. Skepticism, hesitation at engaging female practitioners in the built environment profession should be discouraged.”
To substantiate Awobodu’s claim above, Engr. Robbie James Owivry, former national chairman, Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE) hinted that in engineering there is no gender, that it is either you are good and get employed or you are not good and get fired. There is no room for sentiment, he said.
“So, it is now left for you to prove your mettle. If you are up to the task, you will continue with your work and if you are not, you will be excused. It is the same measure that is used for the males on the job. The question of whether you are a male or female does not arise.
“Maybe you must have been misinformed. I know very well I have employed female engineers for my site work before and I have engaged female undergraduate engineers for I.T training. The issue now is that if that assertion is correct, definitely, I wouldn’t have absorbed them in the first place.”
To further prove his point, Owivry remarked that in NICE, the current national chairman, Engr. Aishatu Umar, whose investiture took place shortly before the elections is a female. Again, he said, the NICE Lagos chapter chairman, Lola Adetana, is a lady and that the Ikeja branch chairman of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Funmi Akingbagbohun is also a female.
Emmanuel Afolayan, immediate past president, Real Estate Developers Association (REDAN), who corroborated the earlier views, explained that he has nothing against engaging a female engineer. He cited the NURTW Estate built by their company as having been superintended by a female engineer all through the construction to the handing over.
“The only thing is that you don’t find them more as against the men. So, it is obvious that men will always be more in number because, in a lineup of 10 engineers, you are likely to have 8:2 ratio or even 9:1. I don’t think anybody anywhere would have anything against a female engineer. It is only about their availability and not their competence. You don’t have them much in number.
“Anybody saying that engineering is not for women is not grounded in activities on construction sites because you find them there and most times, they are very strict. And you know for construction-related jobs, you need people who will adhere strictly to the rules of the game. They are never in a hurry to do anything, which is an advantage to construction work because it has to do with human life.”