The ‘pipe lady’ adds a feminine touch

Melony van Druten stands her ground in a male-dominated industry.

POLOKWANE – For Melony, welding and electro-fusion is something she knows well and can do just as good, if not better, than any other man in the industry and says she never backs away from a challenge.

She started her career at a steel company and where she mainly did exports. Here she often travelled to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana for work all the while furthering her training and skills supplying pipes to different companies and mines along the way.

“I can get my welding certificate but because it is not something that I will be doing full time it is not always worth getting the paperwork that will cost me around R8 000 to renew every two years,” Melony explains.

Aside from her giving her all in her business, she adds it is often difficult to be a woman in her line of work as you have to deal with men who don’t think you know anything about the industry simply due to your gender.

“All too often you will find men who will go out of their way to make things difficult for a woman in the industry but the best way to show them up is to exceed even their best expectations by showing them you know what you are doing and you know how to do an exceptional job,” she adds.

The thing she enjoys the most about her career path is the challenges she encounters every day and that she keeps on learning every step of the way. On the other hand, what makes her job difficult is the lack of toilet facilities at most mines and that the portable facilities are often not safe which makes visiting mining sites difficult.

When she is not buying or selling pipes and welding, she enjoys spending time with her family which often includes hosting regular events to help raise money to help her brother who was left with crippling injuries after a farm attack.

“Spending time with the family is all about the quality and not the quantity. I can be busy and not have time for myself but I will always make time for my family,” she says.

Her advice to women interested in following a career path in a generally male-dominated industry is to work hard to build a name for themselves. “Men will often try to take advantage of you because they will misjudge you and deem you ignorant in your career of choice but you just have to believe in yourself and never give up your values.”

She adds one of the things she has noticed that happens all too often in all walks of life is that women do not ask enough questions. “You can never know everything, ask questions because that is how you learn,” Melony concludes.

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Riana Joubert

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