University of Cape Town (UCT) women are making significant strides in civil engineering, where they account for six of the department’s 11 first-class honours students.
Thirty percent of the Department of Civil Engineering’s students are women, according to the department’s Professor Mark Zuidgeest, director of undergraduate studies. The six top women are Chloe Bolton, Juliana Diniz, Jemma Richmond, Dilys Mneney, Waseefa Ebrahim and Lansea Loubser, who are now working in engineering fields as diverse as transport and coastal infrastructure.
Their achievement is an emphatic endorsement of the Dean of Engineering & the Built Environment Professor Alison Lewis’s strong rebuttal last year of former South Africa Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) chief executive Mangin Pillay’s negative view about investing in attracting women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.
The UCT faculty has actively campaigned to attract more women, primarily through its #WomeninEngineering and “This is what an engineer looks like” campaigns, as well as the UCT chapter of Women in Engineering’s “I am an engineer” drive.
Last year, civil engineering master’s student Suzanne Lambert made global headlines when she produced a world first: a bio-brick made from human urine, signalling an innovative paradigm shift in waste recovery.
Five of the six top women in the civil engineering honours class. They are (from left) Waseefa Ebrahim, Juliana Diniz, Lansea Loubser, Jemma Richmond and Chloe Bolton. Dilys Mneney is absent