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

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

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

The first assessment of African governance by Africans

The state of governance in Africa has improved, with strong gains made in socioeconomic development

African Governance Report: Recommendations

There are still serious challenges to development that the continent faces

African Governance Report: Highlights

Good governance and respect for human rights is crucial for economic development

How to grow the informal sector

Author GG Alcock has solutions to grow the kasi economy

How mystery changes to a R350m VBS loan cost the PIC millions

VBS is bankrupt and was liquidated in November, after being placed under curatorship by the South African Reserve Bank in March 2018

Court victory for Ayo in PIC R4.3bn repayment case

The Pretoria high court ruled that the compliance notice issued by the CIPC in February to the PIC should be set aside
Advertising

Subscribers only

Dozens of birds and bats perish in extreme heat in...

In a single day, temperatures in northern KwaZulu-Natal climbed to a lethal 45°C, causing a mass die-off of birds and bats

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

More top stories

Eusebius McKaiser: Mpofu, Gordhan caught in the crosshairs

The lawyer failed to make his Indian racist argument and the politician refused to admit he had no direct evidence

Corruption forces health shake-up in Gauteng

Dr Thembi Mokgethi appointed as new health MEC as premier seeks to stop Covid-19 malfeasance

Public-private partnerships are key for Africa’s cocoa farmers

Value chain efficiency and partnerships can sustain the livelihoods of farmers of this historically underpriced crop

Battery acid, cassava sticks and clothes hangers: We must end...

COMMENT: The US’s global gag rule blocks funding to any foreign NGOS that perform abortions, except in very limited cases. The Biden-Harris administration must rescind it
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…