Engineering is a trade often associated with men by most. When the pretext civil is added to it the picture gets hectic; most people now picture a tough, well-built man, in overalls carrying graphs and building equipment around. Well, when now a shy, beautiful and smiling lady introduces herself to you and mentions that she is a civil engineer, the imaginary picture that has always been in your mind not only gets distorted but vanishes completely and curiosity gets the better of you to know how they made it. Seonyatseng Maruping (42) stumbled into the trade when her phobia for blood made her abandon her dream of becoming a medical doctor. As a student who was good in science this wasn’t a hard choice to make.
She explains that civil engineering deals with designs and construction of roads, water projects, sewerage plans and building. In short civil engineers build up the environment, she declares. The fact that as a civil engineer she had to build stuff and see them heightened her interest in the trade. After completing her Diploma from the University of Botswana’s Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) and subsequently acquiring a degree from the same institution she joined the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) where she worked as a civil engineer up until last year August when she now joined her current employer Debswana Diamond Company.
She acknowledges that engineering is by nature a male dominated trade, hence all her life she has had to work with men mostly and has now gotten used to it. According to Maruping, challenges came when some of her colleagues felt a woman did not fit in to ‘their’ line of work. But like many other women in male dominated fields, she has had to work double as much as her male counterparts just to prove herself at times. For one to pull through, according to Maruping, they need to be strong and persevere in every condition that they are in. Maruping is of the view that because women are often expected to play the caregiver role as they grow and start families, hence being forced to miss work at times, this provides some men with a perfect opportunity to make women feel unwanted and inferior.
However, Maruping is luckily married to a fellow civil engineer, who is her pillar of strength – he usually understands her work related frustrations and disappointments better. They have three daughters who, she happily declares, seem to have inherited their good intelligence genes. Though a scarce skill, civil engineering is currently has a small market locally, she notes. Civil engineers, according to Maruping, are as a result forced to fight for one piece of pie. For one to make it through they have to stay relevant and be constantly on top of their game which she says requires “a lot of hard-work, it is tough but it is doable”.