‘Woman first, then woodworker’

From the left are Molaeng Ralitabo, Rakotsoane Boithuso, Janet Shabalala, Mosala Tshepo and Bavuma Thandeka. PHOTOS: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

Philile Janet Shabalala is a woman with many talents. Not only is she a make-up artist, but she is also the only female technical teacher at Hodisa Technical High School in Mangaung.
With her make-up and outfits always on “fleek”, Miss Shabalala knows her way around the woodworking workshop, from building shelves, tables and chairs to making use of toolboxes and working on projects. “Being the only female technical teacher comes with its challenges. Some people will question your work after seeing who you are. They usually think there is a man helping you and that a woman is not capable of doing technical subjects. It is still based on the stereotype that it is a man’s terrain,” said Shabalala.

Philile Janet Shabalala Photo:Pierce van Heerden

This competent woman originally hails from KwaZulu-Natal and has been residing in the City of Roses for the past six years. Her goal is to inspire young women to break stereotypes and do what they love. “I encourage young girls who are interested in teaching to not only look at your normal subjects but to enter the technical field as it has a lot of opportunities,” Shabalala added.
Shabalala, who has always had a passion for the beauty industry, grew up working with her hands a lot as her father was a mechanic and she used to help him. Apart from doing her own make-up, Shabalala does make-up for weddings, matric farewells and other events. “I dress up for work but when it comes to working in the workshop, I will change the outfit but not the face,” she confessed smiling.

Pierce van Heerden