Once the exclusive domain of men, there is an encouraging new influx of women into the automotive industry in Gqeberha – bringing a fresh new dynamism and balance to the sector.
Despite many women’s fears of breaking into male-dominated industries, these women are defying the odds, proving that women in these industries can excel. The automotive industry has been an industry controlled mostly by men, but in recent years many women have broken into the industry and earned their stripes.
The Eastern Cape Province has become an economic hub and is home to many vehicle manufacturing companies. Born and raised in Gqeberha, Luaneta Logie has always loved the automotive industry. His journey in the industry has not been easy.
After graduating, she applied for a graduate training program at Delta Motor Corporation, but was turned down twice. However, this did not deter her, on the contrary, it made her even more determined to break into a then extremely masculine industry.
She often says that it is women who are the biggest threats to their own growth in this industry.
“What I’ve found to be a challenge is our own self-limiting beliefs that we’re not good enough, that we don’t have a powerful voice. And so for me, the challenge is always to help people women to make their voices heard, to actually earn their place at the table and take their place at the table. Men don’t stop you from being at the table; we limit ourselves by not wanting to take that seat because we think that we are not enough. It is therefore absolutely essential to overcome this self-limiting belief.
At the same time, Ncedisa Mzuzu, environmental manager by profession, joined the automotive sector in 2008 as an environmental engineer. She had to learn the ropes quickly, always ready to learn new things and equip herself where she felt short.
Now she wears a new hat in this space, as a production manager in the toughest part of the automotive industry, the paint shop.
Mzuzu says dedication and hard work have always prevailed in her career. “To young girls, if I can give any advice, it is that they must have an inquisitive mind, an inquisitive mind. They must be ready to learn new things and, above all, have a mind ready to take risks, because it’s the life that you can’t stay in a comfort zone forever, so I think they just need to take that leap of faith and go get what’s out there.
“Lower the ladder…”
Managing Director of the Nelson Mandela Municipality Business Chamber, Denise van Huyssteen is a pioneer in the automotive sector in Eastern Cape. She began her career in this sector at the Chamber of Commerce.
Her original thinking led to her being chased by managers in the industry and she never looked back, eventually retiring after 20 years. “I think I got used to working with men, but I became more aware of their gender difference. When I started in the auto industry, I remember one of the first meetings I attended, because the secretary wasn’t there, I was asked if I wanted to take the minutes of the meeting. It’s almost the same as asking you to make coffee for everyone you know. So that’s kind of when you realize there’s this difference, but I think over time that’s changed and also for me and it’s not about to be distinguished because you are a woman, but to be respected because you are an equal. And for me it’s all about delivery and what I also wanted to do was learn what I didn’t know because I was dealing with very technical people, a lot of engineers and people who know the full speed cars. So I had to make it my job to learn.
The women say the best way to commemorate Women’s Day is to ensure that the women at the top bring down the ladder to those who come after them. Author – Lwando Nomoyi