Engineering body removes CEO for comments about women

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The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) has terminated Manglin Pillay’s position as CEO with immediate effect, following public outrage over his comments questioning whether women are suited to high-powered careers.

SAICE president Errol Kerst said in a statement on Thursday that the board has spent many hours “carefully deliberating the matter” after receiving “numerous responses” from concerned members about Pillay.

Pillay’s column “Out on a rib”, featured in the July issue of the group's civil engineering industry magazine, questioned whether there should be investment in attracting women to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields as women are better suited to people or caring industries.

He inferred that women prefer not to occupy high-profile executive posts, dedicating themselves to "more important enterprises, like family and raising children, [rather] than to be at the beck and call of shareholders".

The SAICE board held an emergency meeting on August 8, amidst calls for his removal by members and concern expressed by engineering consulting companies. At the time the board accepted Pillay’s apology, citing his contribution to the civil engineering industry. Pillay also promised to undergo diversity training

But Kerst said on Thursday that it would have been remiss of SAICE not to take the views of its members seriously.

He said the board had to follow due process, in terms of labour law and good corporate governancem and the engineering institute and Pillay have now decided to part ways.

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