Maintaining household and traditional roles should be a thing of the past and women must be given the opportunity to pursue a career in a male-dominated field.
This was stressed by Blessing Mable Daphne Grace Elaise who was among the students who graduated from The University of the South Pacific last week. Elaise was also awarded the Fiji Institute of Engineers Prize for the Best Performing Graduating student of the Bachelor of Engineering programme.
While growing up, the Itu’muta, Rotuma lass attend an all-girls school, which was one of the reasons why she felt confident to pursue a study programme mostly dominated by males.
“I attended Dilkusha Girls School and moved to St Joseph’s Secondary School which was an all-girls school. When it was time for me to decide into pursuing which career to follow, I decided to attend USP. I decided to take up civil engineering – just to prove that anything is possible whether it be gender, race, and age,” she said.
“While growing up, my family ensured that gender was never a problem, my parents brought me and my brother the same way and we were given the same responsibilities. But once I entered the society of today, things changed for me”.
The 22-year-old said that she wanted to change the narrative and be a catalyst for young girls to make them believe that anything is possible.
“Here I am, a young lady in a male-dominated field, now graduating in this field and I am hoping to change the way society looks at things. If it is too far-fetched to accept gender equality, possibly we could turn to gender acceptance. This is specifically in my field it was a tremendous shift in terms of entering the workforce,” she echoed.
Elaise joined USP in 2019 and was blessed to have male colleagues who blended well with her in terms of studying and extra-curricular activities at the institution.
“When I joined the Civil Engineering programme, there were more than a hundred students. But as years went by and as we advanced into the higher levels the number of female students vastly decreased. At this point, there are only five of us in our final year. But other than that, I am truly thankful that not only course coordinators made us feel welcome, but also my male colleagues,” she said.
“Here at USP, I was blessed to meet with male colleagues that accepted me for who I am. But as I enter the work industry that was an entire problem on its own. So for me personally, the challenge I have and the goal I have for the future – is to make upcoming female engineers feel accepted in our male-dominated field,” she added.
Elaise plans to join an engineering industry that will not accept her as a female engineer, but as one who is competent in holding her weight in the industry.
The youngest of three siblings acknowledged her course coordinators, parents, two older brother, and family members for their never-ending support throughout her study at USP.