Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Engineering CEO apologises, keeps his job

Manglin Pillay will remain CEO of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE), the industry body said in a statement following an emergency meeting on Wednesday.

The SAICE board met to discuss Pillay’s comments in a column he authored. In the column “Out on a rib”, featured in the July issue of the civil engineering industry magazine, Pillay questioned whether there should be investment in attracting women to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, or investment in creating more gender equal societies.

He quoted a study by Leeds Beckett’s School of Social Sciences and the University of Missouri that women in gender-equal societies choose care or people-orientated careers, while men tend to choose careers that orient them to things and mechanics. He inferred that women prefer not to occupy high-profile executive posts, dedicating themselves to “more important enterprises, like family and raising children, [rather] than to be at the beck and call of shareholders”.

READ MORE: Old boy club dominates engineering

SAICE apologised “unreservedly” for the article and the distress it caused. The board also accepted an apology from Pillay and said that processes were being implemented to deal with the matter internally.

“While the publication of Pillay’s article was unfortunate, we cannot ignore his invaluable contribution to SAICE and to the broader engineering sector over the past eight years.

“The board has accepted his apology and his acknowledgement of the public furore this has caused,” said Errol Kerst, SAICE president.

“The board regrets the publication of Pillay’s article. Additional steps have been put in place internally to ensure that this does not happen again.”

The board will establish an inclusive team to intensify existing initiatives to redress gender and diversity issues within the engineering sector, the statement read.

SAICE had initially distanced itself from the comments in a press release it issued on August 2. The body was criticised for the passive reaction by organisation WomENG, which advocates for women engineers. WomENG had issued an online petition calling for Pillay to be removed from his CEO position in an effort to set an example and send a message to the industry that discrimination would not be tolerated. By Wednesday morning the petition had over 1 100 signatures, co-founder Hema Vallabh told the media.

In an open letter to SAICE’s board, published on WomENG’s Facebook page, Vallabh and co-founder Naadiya Moosajee said that Pillay’s views could not be regarded as separate from the organisation he had been appointed to represent. The organisation further called out Pillay for using a platform given to him because of his role, to make “unfounded and irresponsible” remarks.

Vallabh told the media that the lack of action by SAICE, and Pillay remaining at the helm of the industry body, was disappointing. “We incredibly disappointed at weak stance taken by SAICE. While we support their efforts to establish an inclusive team to intensify existing initiatives to redress gender and diversity issues within the engineering sector, we firmly believe that any efforts will be diluted as long as Manglin Pillay remains at the helm of the organisation.

“SAICE has let the engineering fraternity down by its failure to take action against him and his openly discriminatory rhetoric,” she said. Vallabh added that valuing the contribution Pillay made to SAICE over the damage done through his commentary exposes the “sexism and misogyny” within the industry. — Fin 24

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Lameez Omarjee
Lameez Omarjee
Parliamentary reporter at Fin24.com
Tehillah Niselow
Tehillah Nieselow
Tehillah Nieselow is a Journalist at Power FM. She Covers labour issues, strikes, protests and general stories

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

R15m to rid Gauteng of dirty air

The World Bank is funding a plan to deal with air pollution in Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg

Reservations about ‘new deal’ for rhinos, lions, elephant, leopards

Draft policy promotes species playing their role in wilderness systems but one conservationist says leopards are being sold out

More top stories

Malawi moves to Maggie Mkandawire’s beat

Empowering her people through music and education, Maggie Mkandawire fights the Covid-19 pandemic in her own unique way

Vaccines split global recovery – IMF

The global economy will expand by 6% this year but the economic gap between nations is widening.

R15m to rid Gauteng of dirty air

The World Bank is funding a plan to deal with air pollution in Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg

Reservations about ‘new deal’ for rhinos, lions, elephant, leopards

Draft policy promotes species playing their role in wilderness systems but one conservationist says leopards are being sold out
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×