Engineering is often seen as a profession firmly entrenched in a man’s world, but Namakau Chinkuka is more than just surviving, she’s thriving in the male-dominated field.
Firmly fighting against this stereotype, Ms Chinkuka is Proflight Zambia’s only female aircraft maintenance engineer, a role she describes as her true calling in life.
She has seen her career soar after landing a job with the country’s favourite airline.
“I love to work with my hands and engineering has always been an interest of mine since I was young,” Ms Chinkuka said.
She ensures that Proflight’s aircraft operate properly and safely. Ms Chinkuka makes repairs, inspects planes and finds solutions for any problem the airline’s fleet faces. Her role in the organisation is essential as Proflight takes immense pride in its Maintenance Organisation. Although Ms Chinkuka is the only licensed female engineer, Proflight also has a number of women working in the Planning department plus several others undergoing training as engineers.
Ms Chinkuka joined Proflight in 2015 soon after she graduated from the Zambia Air Services Training Institute (ZASTI). While she was excited to practice her engineering skills, she found her job initially challenging but she quickly adjusted.
The trials she faced initially did not deter her, but instead spurred her on to work harder to prove herself. And she soon blended in with her male workmates.
“I’m thankful that my colleagues don’t see gender, they see me as one of the guys. Sometimes the work is challenging but I really enjoy it,” Ms Chinkuka added.
She particularly enjoys working for Proflight: “I like it that the company gave me the opportunity to do what I love. They have provided me with the chance to practice my craft and given me many opportunities to become better. I attend a lot of training sessions which is good because I’m growing all the time.”
International Women’s Day was on March 8 and the 2018 theme was #PressForProgress. This meant a lot to Ms Chinkuka as she belongs to a profession which sees few women flourish.
“I love Women’s Day. It’s a day that we celebrate women’s achievements and how far we have come,” she said.
“I felt this year’s theme resonated with me because I would not be able to be doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for the opportunities currently available to me that would once have been denied because I am a woman. The fact that I am a female engineer shows progress has been made and I’m excited to see more advancement.”
In the future Ms Chinkuka hopes to see many women take up male-dominated jobs such as engineering: “People think fields like engineering are for men and women would not be good at it, but that is not true. Women can do anything and if you want to be an engineer – go for it.”
A shining example to the likes of Zodwa, Iris and Kim Kardashian
That’s is brilliant! Aircraft maintenance though has several levels such as A, B and C checks. Where does Namakau’s or indeed Proflight engineers’ competencies mostly lie?
Having said that, will be contacting Namakau and her colleagues soon as I assemble parts to build a small light aircraft for personal use around the country …
She rubs me the wrong way
@Mushota, I bet your degree is one of those you just have to memorize all the way without thinking.
She is not an Engineer. Look at the way she is holding a spanner. Even by law of moments, she can’t screw or unscrew in that way.
@Mushota, you are fantasizing her fixing your pipes with that spanner?? What’s the right way for you.
These terms are frequently abused in Africa. You can only distinguish by how much one takes home.
Kudos!!! send her for a flight engineering advanced course in RSA.
LT, this is impressive that you finally thought of “Woman of the Week”.
It’s good that you now thinking. And right picks so far.
I love and respect women.
Wow! You are brilliant baby girl! The sky is the limit
Congratulation. You have made your self,family and women in general proud for breaking the GLASS CEILING EFFECT. Let there be more us women following your lead. Bravo.
Atleast we have people like this. Well done girl. A lot fresh air from the usual Lusambo nonsense
She doesn’t have a PhD like Mushota, BUT IS DOING BETTER!!
I am sure Jay Jay would like to have her number to congratulate her….
Congratulations Mwana wa Mzanga
i though such things remained in 2017. We are all equal either men or women. Ubufonteen ubu bupwe mwebantu. Even my house wife shes thriving in the male-dominated field (house works).
How old or young are you Namakau? Just asking…
I am not getting on a plane that was touched by a chick engineer. She’s busy pa phone and mirror while tightening ma bolts and nuts and forgets sh!t
she is not an engineer but a spanner girl pipo you should no mix what an engineer can do what a helper can do,That lady she just a helper in my own understanding .
@zamzam, she did not hide anything. She is an aircraft maintenance engineer. Anything you do not like? Not all engineers design things. I places where there are no train conductors but ‘train managers’. Train drivers are called train engineers in other countries. She is an engineer and get used to it.
Go Namakau go!
@the 13th apostle,she is not an engineer she can only be an artisan,technician or technologist based on what she did at her COLLEGE/ZASTI,the difference is there get it from or google or research,So bwana njombi what ever you call your self know that there is a distinction in the field of engineering by way of qualification frame work,certificate holder,diploma holder and degree holder are call by different names so dont confuse the masses as you media person who dont know the difference.
she doesnt deserve the title Engineer, u graduate from ZASTI and call yourself Airfcraft maintenance ENGINEER ,,,their is need to sue her for adding ENGINEER word , this UPND girl is just an aircraft handyman big fullstop
Congrats ‘baby girl’ as typical Zed guys would put it.
Ladies and gentlemen, do not be ‘PhDs’ (Pull her Down). She is doing great.
People whichever angle you look at her archivement let’s learn to celebrate others when they are doing well and by so doing you’re creating your own blessing which other people will celebrate with you too, be it a diploma, degree, PHD holder lets learn to celebrate
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