South African women have changed the landscape of entrepreneurship drastically, by taking a route which was believed to be for men only. Black women have ventured into the Mechanics and Construction industries.

Gender diversity in the construction industry is still shockingly poor. According to Statistics SA women make up just 11% of the entire workforce, while 89,3% of the industry is made up of men.

Township entrepreneur, Simelane, affectionately known as The Iron Lady, said that she developed a passion for construction when she did her learnership with Wispeco Aluminium Company. Her workshop is based in Katlehong, east of Johannesburg.

She employs two project-based contractors.

Simelane said there are people who still find it surprising for a woman to be in construction. “Many of my clients get to be surprised when I go on-site to take measurements,” she said.

SA women make up just 11% of the entire workforce, while 89,3% of the industry is made up of men.

The Emerge Project

According to Simelane, creativity is critical to producing products that will satisfy customers, “Seeing a complete window or door and the smile on my clients touches my heart.”

Inasmuch as The Iron Lady is enjoying working in the industry, she says being a woman is a challenge; “I always have to explain myself”.

“The biggest change I have seen since I have been in the industry is Green building, Recycling and developers using aluminium now instead of steel or wood,” she said.

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