LUSAKA－Inspired to make a difference in promoting infrastructure development in the country, a young Zambian female engineer says she is determined to overcome the myth that engineering is for men by making a meaningful contribution to the profession.
Tadalisika Zulu, a 23-year-old civil engineer, says she wants to prove that women have what it takes to venture into professions like engineering.
Zulu, a clerk of works at the China-funded Kenneth Kaunda International Conference Center, and an intern in the Department of Public Infrastructure at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, says she faced resistance from male workers at the project who could not believe that a young woman could be an engineer.
"I spent two weeks on this project trying to tell the workers that I am not a translator but an engineer. They would literally tell me, 'madam, there are no women engineers,'" she says.
The presence of few women in engineering in Zambia can be seen in the number of female engineers registered under the Engineering Institute of Zambia, an institution that regulates the profession. Only 8 percent of all the registered engineers under the association are women.
And, Zulu is determined to change the situation.
Zulu, who was trained at the Wuhan University of Technology in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, has since set up a social media platform on TikTok to talk about engineering and encourage girls and women to take up the profession.
According to her, she has so far received positive feedback, especially from girls in high school who feel that they can also take up engineering.
"I want to inspire more women to become engineers, and we need to change this mindset that women can't be engineers," she adds.
When asked what prompted her to take up engineering, Zulu says this was birthed when she visited her sister in Kabompo, a small town in the northwestern part of the country.
The deplorable infrastructure she saw inspired her to take up engineering so that she can contribute to the development in the country, she says.
She decided to study in China because it was the most ideal place to undertake her studies then as she was looking for a country where it would be affordable to study as a self-sponsored student.
Zulu says China offered favorable conditions and that the four years she spent in China from 2015 to 2019 had opened up more opportunities for her.
Before doing her course in engineering, she spent the first part of her study at Jiangxi Normal University in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, where she learned Chinese.
She says learning the language helped her to integrate at her university because she met students from different countries who spoke different languages, adding that the only mode of communication was Chinese.
She is happy with the knowledge acquired in China because she was exposed to not only theoretical aspects of the profession but practical aspects as well, which has made her able to do any construction job from architectural design to the end.
Working at the China-funded project of the Kenneth Kaunda International Conference Center since 2020, Zulu has been exposed to other experiences, such as Chinese culture of working and timekeeping.
Zulu says her future plans include doing a master's degree in sustainable construction in engineering, which will go a long way in helping her country have infrastructure projects that are not only sustainable but also environment-friendly.