A Lady Engineer Overcomes Challenges Through Hard Work

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March), Global Water Partnership has interviewed women in the water community across the Network on their journey to become successful in their professions, how to overcome obstacles they face as women, and also recommendations to other women.

Mrs. Lucy Njambi  is a Water and Sanitation Engineer, currently Environment and Compliance Manager at Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC), Kenya

What would you say are the main challenges in your work as a woman?

I would say that working as a Lady Engineer has been quite a challenge especially in terms of bringing up a family. This is especially so as an Engineer we may be required to work in various parts of the Country and in remote areas. However, this challenge is not restricted to lady Engineers but to various lady professionals in the water and sanitation sector.

Secondly as a lady working in a male dominated sector, we tend to be looked upon as incapable and usually have to work twice as hard as men to get the same recognition. Opportunities for training and promotion are considered for the men first before the ladies can be considered. Performance standards are much higher and there is low tolerance for mistakes. Lady Scientists are poorly coached or trained in communications and relationships and especially with fellow male scientist who may also be poor in communication and relationships. This is a weak point that brings lots of conflicts and may be one of the main reasons why lady scientists and especially Engineers opt out of the profession early in life. In cases where one is able to navigate mistrust and fear may occur also. Mentorships and coaching are not available.

What have you done to overcome these challenges?

I have personally countered this by taking training in personal development and Leadership. This improved my communication skills greatly. I do voluntary training and coaching for ELNET. I have also ensured that I am widely in my field so that I am an expert. I selected personal mentors to walk with me when I realized this was necessary. When I am requested to represent the company in committees, I do my best so that I contribute maximum to the cause, increase my knowledge level as well as network. Am continuously networking and doing short courses also on the internet. Practicing the recommendations detailed in bullet 3 below has taken me a long way.

What are your recommendations to other women in similar circumstances?

  • Never give up. And again, never give up. Persist until you succeed
  • Have clear goals. They will give you motivation when the path is rocky.
  • Choose a mentor or mentors early in life in your particular field and also in life matters
  • Respect and appreciate all persons
  • Work hard and work in teams
  • Mentor and Coach others
  • Advance your knowledge as much as possible in your field
  • Train yourself and others always
  • Build networks
  • Have faith