Doris Meliwane, hailing from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, defied societal norms to become a trailblazer in the male-dominated automotive industry in PNG's capital, Port Moresby. This article traces her inspiring journey, shedding light on the challenges faced and the strides taken toward gender equality.
Early Fascination and Challenges
Growing up in the highlands, Doris developed a fascination with vehicles that persisted into adulthood. However, venturing into the automotive industry as a woman was no easy feat. In a society where workshops were deemed unfit for women, Doris overcame societal barriers with unwavering family support, particularly from her husband, who took on the role of a house husband to facilitate her studies and career pursuits.
Her attraction to the industry was fueled by a desire to understand the intricacies of what makes a vehicle move.
Apprenticeship Struggles and Unequal Pay
Embarking on her apprenticeship as the first female in PNG's automotive industry with an Australian qualification, Doris encountered significant hurdles. Male colleagues, resistant to sharing ideas, treated her meanly, often dismissing her efforts based on her qualifications.
Despite working at the same rate as her male counterparts, she faced inequality in pay. Balancing a demanding career with family responsibilities, she navigated these challenges with determination and her husband's invaluable support.
Empowering Women and Family Dynamics
Doris advocates for empowering women in the workforce, highlighting the need for men to support and empower women, as exemplified by her husband's decision to become a house husband for nine years. Their joint effort to create a supportive home environment reflects the essence of gender equality, acknowledging the imperfections while striving to build a fulfilling life.
Trainer Role in a Male-Dominated Field
As a trainer in a male-dominated field, Doris acknowledges the challenges but emphasizes the fortune of being recognized for merit rather than gender. Facing initial resistance has transformed into a valuable learning experience in her career. Beyond her professional role, she leverages her skills to service and repair vehicles for family members, friends, and in-laws, augmenting her income.
Improving Gender Equality
Doris underscores the importance of creating workplace awareness to amplify women's voices working in trade jobs. Advocating for sharing their stories, she believes others must hear and understand the challenges and triumphs of women in non-traditional roles, sending a powerful message for gender equality.
Doris Meliwane's journey from defying societal norms to becoming a respected figure in Papua New Guinea's automotive industry exemplifies the transformative power of determination and family support. Her story inspires aspiring women in non-traditional fields, paving the way for greater gender equality in workplaces.