Home INTERNATIONAL Realizing the untapped potential in women

Realizing the untapped potential in women

Realizing the untapped potential in women

ghana waves news

Since 1978, the number of women working in “guy” jobs has tripled, according to data compiled by LinkedIn.

Today marks the International Day of the Girl. The day is observed worldwide each year on October 11.

It is no secret that women are overlooked and underpaid in workforces across the globe. Nearly half of the world’s available talent are women, but in many cases, they aren’t given the opportunity simply because their gender differs from their male counterparts.

Take Ghana for instance, where there are more than one million illiterate women than men because of lack of access to a quality education. In another study conducted by Catalyst, women only make up 6.6% of workers in male-dominated industries in the United States

Constance Swaniker is defying those odds, though. She makes up a small – but growing – fraction of women choosing to work in male-dominated fields. Swaniker currently owns Accents & Arts Limited, a metal fabrication company, where she employs mostly men.

Her interest in entrepreneurship in a predominately male industry started early when she discovered that she enjoyed working with her hands. At University, most of her female colleagues took up apprenticeships at schools and restaurants, but she took the path less traveled.

Constance Swaniker (middle), owner of Accents & Art Limited and Offeibea Baddoo (right), UNICEF Communications Officer (Accra).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “I found myself working at a carpentry workshop,” she told Joy FM’s Daniel Dadzie on the Super Morning Show Thursday. “It was owned by a woman and I told her that I wanted to be a carpenter. She laughed at me and said that it was a job for men.”

Undeterred, she signed up anyway, working alongside an environment of mostly men.  

“I ended up cleaning and buying food for everyone in the beginning, but it was okay. The longer I was there, the more I realized that this is where I wanted to be.”

Since 1978, the number of women working in “guy” jobs has tripled, according to data compiled by LinkedIn.

There has been a 243% increase in the number of female test development engineers, a 127% rise in women architects and a 118% growth of females working in public safety.

These trends are enlightening, but challenges remain. Some women working in male-dominated environments still must succumb to men who are typically given the most power and influence.

Read more: Second Lady calls for reforms to give women equal access to finance credit

“Although the past discrimination women have faced has been changing, women may still face a variety of challenges in their male-dominated roles today,” a Cornell research study shows.

It continues: “Those women who jump feet first into roles predominately held by males seek support from their colleagues while facing challenges of feeling incompetent, mistreatment, and lack of a voice in their workplaces.”

UNICEF Communications Officer (Accra), Offeibea Baddoo, says part of it is systemic and subconscious.

“Sometimes it’s not on purpose. It’s been ingrained in our culture for women to take up certain jobs,” Baddoo told Myjoyonline.

But that cycle can be broken, she insisted.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to uplift girls,” she said. We can make a difference one girl at a time.”

Swaniker agrees, adding that, “the thing about being different is that you know inside that you are different. There is a light within you that refuse to dim. It is up to you to bring that out.”