Beyond Bias and Barriers: Ipti’s Journey to Becoming a Mining Engineer

The Impactful Journey of a Mastercard Foundation Scholar

The image of Ipti, a Mastercard foundation scholar wearing a graduation gown with a friend

Ipti, a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, wearing a graduation gown with a friend.

If you want to be an engineer, why let the perceived difficulty stop you? Go out there and do your thing. Explore. Find out if you like it. I am a strong believer in doing the things you want. What I have done my whole life is [to] do things I enjoy. If it does not work, I can start over. If you enjoy it, stick with it. Just put it out there.”

Ipti grew up in North Kaneshie, a suburb of Accra, Ghana’s capital, where she experienced the value of community. She had no aspirations to study outside Ghana until she completed high school and was selected for the Zawadi Africa Education Fund Program. Upon selection, Ipti began the process of applying to schools in the USA. She was, however, rejected by the two schools she applied to. Ipti was on the verge of giving up but decided to give her aspirations one last shot and apply for the Mastercard Foundation scholarship at McGill University in Canada.

“When I got the scholarship email, I absolutely lost my mind. I called my mum, my family, and Mrs. Keteku, who works at the US Embassy. It was so great to have that much support. I was keeping it low-key because I was worried it would not go through,” says Ipti.

Ipti however found moving to a new country a bit strange. From the clothes and language to the professors, everything was new to her. Ipti’s first semester at McGill University nevertheless went smoothly. However, she failed a few courses in her second year. In her third year, she found herself fighting depression but pulled through with the help of her fellow Mastercard Foundation Scholars. She also started taking French classes and got on the honour roll for French.

Related: Akoben: Stories of Impact. Tales of Courage.

“I didn’t know much about being a mining engineer other than the fact that you travel, and I was like, I haven’t been anywhere; I decided to prioritize exploration, making it my primary reason for pursuing mining engineering.”

Ipti’s decision to pursue a career in the male-dominated field of mining engineering was not without challenges, and she was on the verge of quitting because she did not feel like she fit in. However, she secured an opportunity to intern with a mining company, Tata Steel, in Ghana, and it made all the difference. She decided to stick with her choice.

Ipti, a mining engineer, in an overall.

Ipti, a mining engineer, in a safety overall.

I started working at Tata about two months after graduation. The co-operative office person at McGill told me that Tata was looking for engineers,” Ipti explains.

Quite a few women were working at Tata Steel, but Ipti was the only junior engineer. Most other women worked in the health and safety or human resources departments. Ipti started with analysis work but soon moved into drill and blast, where she planned blasts, ensuring they were executed properly and finding out how to improve them. Ipti then moved to short-term planning, where she planned blasting locations and collaborated with the geology department to determine how materials could be moved for the best results in the processing plant.

I want to see more parity in every industry as much as we can get, especially mining engineering. I do not see enough women in mining engineering. [The] women I see are working in safety and HR. I want to see more gender parity in the places I work at.”

Ipti is keen to give back to her community and intends to move back home to Ghana to work in the mining industry because she feels she is of more use there. She is incredibly passionate about safeguarding the environment where mining takes place. She also hopes to find a way to empower the people in her community to learn skills they are interested in learning, such as carpentry, art, and other employable skills.

I found early on that asking for help is better than going out on a limb and hoping you can make it. Use your community. It helps to know that there is someone out there waiting for you to succeed,” says Ipti.

From her community in North Kaneshie to the network of Zawadi Scholars and thereafter to the Mastercard Foundation Scholars family, Ipti has been surrounded by a strong community that has been of great support at every step of her personal, academic, and career journey. The people around her have been a great driving force behind her success and have taught her to ask for help and help others however she can.

Related: Mastercard Foundation Scholars’ Voices

Ipti has since transitioned to working as a project coordinator and is currently working on a reclamation project. She is proud of her successes, especially as a woman in mining engineering. In her view, there is more work to be done, and she desires to see more gender parity in engineering. Ipti is excited about what the future holds and seeks to continue to do her best and shine in every corner she finds herself in. As far as Ipti is concerned, the journey is just beginning.

“I don’t think I am anywhere important; I have not gotten anywhere. I am just a girl. I try my best wherever I am. I ask to try things out and, most importantly, know when I am in too deep.”


Learn More About Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program


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