Twenty years after the promulgation of the Employment Equity Act, transformation — particularly the advancement of women — in the metals and engineering sector is still painfully slow, as indicated by the 18th Commission for Employment Equity Annual Report, “Workforce Profile for Manufacturing by Race and Gender”. Published in June this year, the report compared 2015, 2016 and 2017 statistics on race and gender, and the picture, in terms of gender diversity, remains particularly discouraging, with a mere 33.8% representation of women at senior management level. The exclusion of women and their skills in the workplace, especially in senior management positions, is not unique to SA. Entry into such decision-making positions is replete with well-known barriers. Women have to fight cultural stereotypes, ingrained mindsets and stubborn forms of behaviour to break through into leadership roles and positions. According to the 2017 Businesswomen’s Association of SA census, the share of JSE-...

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