SAICE CEO apologises for comment on women‚ will keep his position

08 August 2018 - 18:59 By Ernest Mabuza
South African Institution of Civil Engineering CEO Manglin Pillay apologised unreservedly for a column written where he questioned whether South Africa should be investing heavily in attracting women into science‚ technology‚ engineering and mathematics fields.
South African Institution of Civil Engineering CEO Manglin Pillay apologised unreservedly for a column written where he questioned whether South Africa should be investing heavily in attracting women into science‚ technology‚ engineering and mathematics fields.
Image: Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA

The executive board of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) on Wednesday apologised unreservedly for a column written by its CEO‚ Manglin Pillay‚ and the distress it caused.

It said Pillay had apologised for the article and would still remain its CEO.

In the column‚ published in the Civil Engineering magazine July edition‚ Pillay questioned whether South Africa should be investing heavily in attracting women into science‚ technology‚ engineering and mathematics fields.

According to his column‚ evidence from research showed women were “predisposed” to caring and people-orientated careers.

The article was also posted on his LinkedIn account. In it‚ he said “most women” at a certain age “prefer to work part-time or dedicate themselves completely to child rearing or pursuing other meaningful exploits generally related to caring”‚ the Sunday Times reported at the weekend.

Following a public outcry over Pillay’s comments‚ the SAICE board issued a statement last week dissociating itself from Pillay’s comments‚ saying it was “horrified” and “unfortunate”.

Despite the initial statement from the board‚ the outcry over Pillay’s article did not abate.

This week‚ WomEng‚ an organisation that deals with issues faced by women in the engineering sector‚ started a petition on Twitter calling for Pillay to be ousted from his position.

The petition said he had “used his leadership role and public platform of the SAICE magazine to pen a misogynistic article about women in the engineering industry.

Following an emergency meeting of the executive board of SAICE on Wednesday‚ the board announced it had accepted an apology from Pillay and that processes were being implemented to deal with this matter internally.

The board also confirmed that Pillay would remain as its CEO.

“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‚ president of SAICE.

Kerst said the board had agreed to establish an inclusive team to intensify existing initiatives to redress gender and diversity issues within the engineering sector.

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