What you need to know:
- Lynda Kanguha Wamere, 28, is one of the few women mechanical engineers in Kenya, specialising in plumbing and automotive works.
- Between 2003 and 2004, Ms Wamere interacted a lot with her guardian, a mechanical engineer, and got inspired to pursue the career.
- Starting August 2020, Ms Wamere immersed herself in construction, a field with a relatively low number of women.
- After a stint working in engineering, she has gone back to school for a Master’s degree in nuclear science at the University of Nairobi.
Mechanical engineering is among the fields with the highest gender gaps globally, with men dominating it. A group of girls is, however, set to transform this by mentoring girls in sciences.
Lynda Kanguha Wamere, 28, is one of the few women mechanical engineers in Kenya, specialising in plumbing and automotive works.
Between 2003 and 2004, Ms Wamere interacted a lot with her guardian, a mechanical engineer, and got inspired to pursue the career.
“In the evenings, my guardian and I would brainstorm on some of the mechanical issues he faced at work and how he troubleshot them. That is how I got interested to learn more about his job,” recollects Ms Wamere.
The more she learnt about mechanical engineering, the more she fell in love with it.
Later when she had joined Starehe Girls’ Centre in 2007, she interacted with a lady mechanical engineer at KenGen, who visited their school regularly to mentor them. She soon discovered that there is a gender gap in the field, prompting her to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.
“I thought, why not give it a shot?” Ms Wamere expresses.
She has been in the mechanical engineering field for the last five years. As a site-engineer, she is tasked with ensuring stocks are balanced and that that architectural drawings are updated so that there are no discrepancies in materials used
Starting August 2020, Ms Wamere immersed herself in construction, a field with a relatively low number of women.
“In construction, the gender gap for technical expertise is so loud. I majorly interact with men on site. The only lady I have met so far, was doing stock-taking and inventory management,” she says.
Previously a site engineer, Ms Wamere is slowly evolving in the field and has for the last few months been running Suluhu Green Solutions, a consultancy firm on water plumbing works. Her new passion is automotive engineering.
“I am taking an internship on automotive engineering to build on skills learnt in school and see how to incorporate it as a new line in my business,” says Ms Wamere.
Her dream is to see Suluhu Green Solutions curve a niche as an end-to-end solutions provider in plumbing works and automotive engineering.
Ms Wamere is a testimony to the power that girls and women can yield when they come together to not only form friendships that support each other, but friendships that add real value to the actualisation of each other’s future dreams. She is part of a lean-in circle of four girls who have been walking together since 2011.
“Two of them are from the Global-Give Back Circle program (GGBC) while one is a former schoolmate at Starehe Girls’ Centre,” says Ms Wamere.
The GGBC is a girl-child empowerment program running in five countries including Kenya, India, China and South Africa. It is implemented in Kenya by the Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF).
Starehe Girls’ Centre administration selected Ms Wamere among other girls, to join the GGBC program while she was in Form One in 2007.
“They felt that I stood a chance to benefit from GGBC and my background contributed a lot,” she says.
It is here that she met her two friends in the GGBC ‘sister circle’, and their relationship was mainly to remind each other of their career goals.
Luckily, they scored all passed in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), with Ms Wamere scoring an A mean-grade of 81 points, which saw her join Moi University for a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and production.
Upper Second Class
Her two friends from the GGBC had also been admitted for engineering at Moi University, making them re-unite in 2011. While here, Ms Wamere also met a former classmates at Starehe Girls’ Centre who had also been admitted for an engineering course.
“The four of us now focused on building each other academically. Luckily, we all performed very well as we scored not below Upper Second Class,” she shares.
Having come from disadvantaged backgrounds, the girls also assisted each other to not lose track of their humble backgrounds and the many opportunities the future held for them.
“We knew that having had access to university education, our lives would change,” says Ms Wamere.
They have been tracking each other’s progress and consulting whenever at a fix. They have also pooled resources to raise capital and invest in tangible projects. The relationship has seen the trio transit from mentees to mentors within and outside of the GGBC program.
“We are mentoring other girls in the ‘Wings to Fly’ scholarship programme, an initiative of Equity Bank Group,” says Ms Wamere.
She is also mentoring two boys and two girls, who are mechanical engineering students at University of Nairobi, Technical University of Mombasa, and Moi University.
“Teenagers ask lots of questions, a good number of them from outside my field. I have to read widely so that I can pour something meaningful into their lives,” she explains.
This, she says, has opened her eyes on many topics and her knowledge has broadened.
Degree in nuclear science
“I am able to assist the girls to discover opportunities in their challenges. I have to think like them, yet read widely to challenge some of the notions they hold with practical knowledge,” says Ms Wamere.
After a stint working in engineering, she has gone back to school for a Master’s degree in nuclear science at the University of Nairobi.
“I have always wanted to retire at the age of 35, and it is the reason I plugged into my own practice on water and energy. This is an area where I am growing in,” she shares.
Ms Wamere attributes her career accomplishments to her guardian and her sister-circle from the GGBC program.
She lost her father when she was eight years old\ and three years later, her mother died.
This saw the fourth-born in a family of six children, grow up under the guardian of her father’s friend, who was a mechanical engineer in Kakamega. She attended Mumias Complex Primary School.
It is while here that her teachers assisted her to apply for Starehe Girls’ Centre. All her five siblings hold university degrees.
“We have been lucky that scholarships and support avenues such as GGBC exist, and that people are willing to give their time and in kind,” Ms Wamere says.
GGBC exposed her to annual give-back commitments where she was expected to do something unique to give back to her community. While on holiday, she volunteered at a dispensary in Magongo, Mombasa County.
At Moi University, she volunteered her time to mentor young girls at a children’s home in Kesses, Eldoret and at Moi Girls High School in Eldoret. Her interest was to follow on the progress of students, while paying attention to issues raised by girls interested in engineering as a future professions.
She advises girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics(Stem) subjects as this would give Science-based professions a balance.
“More females should join the engineering field. Engineering is not about lifting heavy loads, we have machines which can do the manual work. We need a balance in ideas that can yield quality output,” she emphasises.
While in Form Three and Form Four, she too benefited from career guidance and was placed with a mentor, Michelle Graham, a US national who has held her hand to date. Ms Graham shared mechanical engineering materials with her, assisted to write her CV and groomed her on how to conduct herself while job hunting and at job interviews.
“Over the years, Michelle has been a big sister to me. I share with her issues that I would want to talk with an elder person and she gives a worthy input. For instance, when I shared with her about transitioning in my career, she pointed out other opportunities that I hadn’t noticed,” Ms Wamere explains.
After her mother died and before her guardian took them in, a grassroots women’s group struggled to support them. Her mother had been part of a women’s self-help group that cared about the welfare of her family.
“For one year, the women pooled resources to see that we had food, attended school and that our needs were met. They did not have enough as we could see their struggle; but they eased the pain,” Ms Wamere says.
She is among the 934 girls who have so far, transited through the GGBC program, all of whom have prospered in their education and career goals, advancing in socio-economic development.