Meet construction foreman Ronelle Gallant, who is pushing boundaries (and boulders) in a male dominated industry

Ronelle Gallant. Photo: Supplied

Ronelle Gallant. Photo: Supplied

Published Aug 17, 2023


Women’s Month allows the ladies to let their hair down and attend glam events that celebrate the strong women of Mzansi.

But for some women, like Ronelle Gallant, the words ‘strong’ and ‘glam’ have a different meaning.

Infact, ‘glam’ doesn’t feature much in in her life as Gallant spends most of her days in safety boots, helmet and overalls.

The mom of two is a foreman at one of Cape Town’s largest construction companies, WBHO Construction.

Ronelle Gallant. Picture: Supplied

Aside from leading men on her construction sites, Gallant says she started off with heavier duties that sometimes saw her being frowned in general.

“I’ve been in the industry for 12 years. It was never my ambition to be working in construction but, one day, desperation saw me throw in my CV with my cousin who was in the trade at the time, I was open to taking any job.

“I was employed as a Quality Controller and by learning what I saw on sites, I worked my way up.”

Gallant says she often longs to do her nails and put on make-up but that’s not really practical in her line of work.

“I don’t get to do nails or make-up when I want to, unless its for a special occasion.

The ‘glam’ Ronelle Gallant. Picture: Supplied

“I try maintaining a balance between work and home because I still need to be a mom with a soft touch for my babies and (being a) wife to my husband, so when I undress from my rugged uniform, I transform into mommy mode.”

Gallant says the construction industry is gradually starting to accept the females who join.

“There is a 40% growth in the number of women going into the construction industry every year,” Gallant adds.

On the challenges of being in a male dominated industry, she shares: “Working in a male dominated industry means I have to give orders and instructions to men. it was difficult to start off in construction, men treated me differently, it was like they didn’t think I’d fit in or be capable of doing the job.

“Men on site would make remarks that this is a man’s job.

“Even when I meet new people and they hear what I do, they look at me funny and ask why I’m doing such hard work.

“But it’s not difficult at all, the mentality people have is limiting them, they can become more than they think they can be.”