Today June 23, is International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the exciting career opportunities available to girls in this industry. We celebrate women in engineering in Africa and Ghana today.
We bring you the profile of a woman in engineer in Ghana. Rosina Maku Matey is a sound and transmission engineer and has been working in the field for over 10 years. Rosina is a member of Women in Engineering (WinE) Ghana which provides mentor-ship for young girls looking to join the field.
What led you to study engineering? I had a lot of support from home. In the beginning, I wanted to do medicine which I thought was a ‘big’ course. My brothers were very forward thinking and they would teach me. But I wasn’t good in Biology so when the results came up, they advised me that “since you are good in Math and Physics, why don’t you do engineering?’ And they continued to encourage me while I was still at university. If I complained that ‘something was difficult, they would tell me ‘You can do it!”
What did you study at do become a sound and transmissions engineer? After secondary school, I went to Accra polytechnic where I got a HND in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. After that, I did my national service for 2 years, then proceeded to Regional Maritime University in Accra for my degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. After completing, I worked for a light aircraft company. My job there was working with air traffic controllers who were dealing with light aircrafts, for training other people. I did this before I joined Ghana broadcasting corporation in 2010. I currently work under Volta star radio, which is a Ghana broadcasting corporation affiliate in the Volta region. I have worked here for 8 years.
What does a sound and transmission engineer do? We do radio and TV, making sure that our signals are working well and other people have received us. And we also do recordings on radio. Clients bring in advertisements and other promos, and that is how the station makes money. We also record this commercial jingles for people and edit them so that they are good for radio. I also organize orientation for new employees and also students on attachment. These are some of the things that I do.
What do you do on a daily basis? The station has three shifts in a day. If I am in the morning shift, I have to be at work at 3.30 am. The first thing I do is to make sure all the equipment, air–conditioners and studio equipment for the presenters is working well. All equipment has to be in good working condition. Then I check to make sure all the signals are working. What is left is to monitor them during operation. Monitoring has to be done with all the senses. If the signal coming up is not good, then you have to go and look for what is causing it. So you really have to pay attention in this type of job. You can also be called if there is a problem so you make sure that you respond to any query quickly. I also work on jingle recording which are saved on a backup database, which can then be played later.
What do you like about what you do? It is both challenging and interesting. The beginning was difficult but I have grown to love my job.
What do you like least about your job? Initially, everyone thinks a woman cannot do this. You have to prove yourself first, then people see that you can do it! That was the challenge in the beginning. So coming to the job market, you need some of this encouragement because you are psyched up already. Nowadays, people call me to do stuff for them. In my office, for example, if my boss needs something, they say, ‘Call Rosina to do it for you!”. So it is a matter of working to overcome those challenges. All ladies have faced this one way or the other.We talk to some of the young girls who are facing these challenges. A lady spoke to me recently about lecture halls. When you want to stand up and ask a question, the guys say “you talk too much” or things like that. And I tell them that I have also experienced that. Stand up for what you want, you don’t have to be discouraged by anybody so far as you are doing the right thing.
Any other female broadcasting engineers? I am the only female sound engineer in the Volta region but in the other regions, there are others. Ghana broadcasting corporation has 11 stations. We have ladies who come for attachment and go back.
Are you doing any mentorship? I have joined a group from my community called Kloma Gbi where we go to educate young children on how to study. Of course, I encourage the kids to get into the science and engineering. There are a lot of opportunities available for them, especially the girls as well. When people know your background, where you are coming from, and that you have been able to study a course that everybody says is difficult, they get encouraged to do more for themselves to achieve their dreams. It is good when people tell me that I am a role model to them because I feel that I am encouraging them. We have done a lot of work as a group. We are just completing construction of a classroom block for one of the schools we visited. This is one of the biggest projects that we have done.
What are your plans for the future? I have plans for further studies so I am working on that.
What gets you motivated? I believe that if you set a dream to achieve, then nothing should discourage you. Even if something that comes your way in the form of negativity, find a way of making it work for you. I don’t believe that there is a bad situation, because there is something always something good out of that situation. I am not discouraged by what goes on around me. I will make sure to get the positive out of the negative. I remember some of our lecturers at the university would give us these tough equations and we would complain that we couldn’t solve them. The lecturer would always say “There is a solution for it. Go and find it!”
Hobbies? I exercise a lot, I like to keep fit either in a group or alone. I also do a bit of reading. I am not so good at it but I try to read. I am currently reading The Gold Coast boy by Bwana Awetse, a fictitious autobiography.
Parting shot? Stand up for what you want, you don’t have to be discouraged by anybody so far as you are doing the right thing. There is no need to complain that you can’t do something. You can do it! Fog girls in school, Mathematics is very important, and it is not difficult. It is just everyday life. Solve one mathematical problem everyday and you will see that you will be through. Group study is very important.
Tell us more about Women in Engineering Ghana
Women in Engineering (WinE) Ghana is a network of female engineers whose core mandate is inspiring young women into the profession. We do this through mentoring by visiting schools from the basic to tertiary to motivate them.
We are currently working in partnership with Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) in their Power Compact Internship and Mentoring Program. In this program,experts train us mentorship and we are assigned with ladies to mentor.