Over the years, the engineering industry has been considered as one of the male-dominated sectors. For this reason, the efforts of women thriving in this industry are barely recognized. In Kenya for instance there has been a concern in regard to the low numbers of female engineers.
According to the Institution of Engineers of Kenya, out of 6444 engineers, female members are only 436 which forms only seven percent. Among the few recognized female engineers is Josephine Djirackor; a woman whose success story began with her passion for fixing old radios in her hometown located in Samburu County.
According to Josephine her inspiration to pursue engineering as a career was drawn from her passion as well as encouraging words from her mother who always emphasized the importance of education even though she herself was not educated.
“My mom was passionate about going to school. My mom believed that school was the only thing that would open up life for you. Without school, you cannot make it.” She said
Through her hard work, she became the first Samburu girl to join Alliance high school in 1978 and later pursued engineering after completing her secondary education.
“I was always passionate about engineering. Even when I was a kid, I used to take our only radio apart and fix it back. I used to repair neighbors watches and clocks” she added
Josephine then joined Kenyan Post and Telecommunication Cooperation where she was trained as a radio technician. While there, she landed a scholarship by UNESCO to study in Russia and this led her to a 6-year journey in a foreign country.
Although the language barrier and climate change were quite a challenge for her, she managed to adjust and settled in Russia. During her stay, she got married to a Ghanaian who was also studying engineering at the same university.
The couple however did not have it smooth in their career and their troubles began upon their return to Kenya. Josephine revealed that they suffered 5 years of joblessness and even recalls of days they went without food.
Despite the struggle, they eventually established their own Telecommunication company; Elris in Kenya which currently offers services across the East African Countries.
With over 15 years since its inauguration, the company has grown and currently has over 80 employees with many of the beneficiaries being young Kenyans.
According to Josephine the establishment of the company was not just for profit but was aimed at helping jobless Kenyans who have been tarmacking just like she did. Beyond her company, Josephine also runs a project in her home county aimed at mentoring young women to become leaders in the future.
Josephine attributes her success to the fact that she relocated to Russia and encourages other Kenyans to be on the lookout and not be afraid of pursuing opportunities abroad.
“Where would I be if I didn’t go abroad, maybe I would have died by now. It gives you hope and love for this country that you have never had before.
“This is a beautiful country but go out there if you can. Your mind will never shrink again” she concluded