The Sisterhood of Women in STEM

You have heard about The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, but have you heard about the sisterhood of women in STEM?

After two years of Covid-19 related restrictions and lockdowns, the Inspiring Fifty South Africa network came together once more to celebrate the winners of 2021. What made this year’s awards extra special is that the event was held during Women’s History Month - a month dedicated to honouring the role that women have played in shaping the world and our lives.

"One of the primary reasons that Inspiring Fifty was established in the Netherlands, was to increase diversity in technology and to recognize the roles that women play, acknowledging that women serve as role models for other women in the fields of STEM.” Ambassador Han Peters, at the Inspiring Fifty Awards event hosted in Gauteng

#cocreateSANL was thrilled to be able to celebrate with the Inspiring Fifty South Africa winners for the fifth year since the platform was started in 2017. “We are very proud to be part of this movement that not only recognises that there is a great need to celebrate women already in STEM but also inspires more [women] to follow in their footsteps”, said Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Sebastiaan Messerschmidt in his welcome speech.

Rene Parker (CEO of RLabs) delivered a moving keynote speech about unity and supporting grassroots projects in our communities. In her speech, she emphasised that there is a need to develop products that cater to those frequently left out of economic activity in the country, such as inclusive financial products that benefit poor entrepreneurs. Rene also spoke about how the pandemic was affecting our lives and the livelihood of communities living on the edge of poverty. She also highlighted the creative response people displayed during the pandemic due to their resilience, especially women who pursued “side hustles” to support their families during this difficult and uncertain period.

Several women shared their stories about how difficult it was to create a name for themselves across their various sectors. The women shared about how they had to be resilient in order to take up space in an industry that is often largely dominated by white men. A few participants discussed their struggles with decolonizing their own institutions' science faculties. Even so, the overall tone was one of light-hearted laughter and a great sense of community.

“There is so much beauty in this sisterhood of diverse and talented women in STEM, and I am just honoured to be a part of this movement and to know these inspiring women.” These are the heart warming words shared by the ambassador of the Inspiring Fifty South Africa chapter, Ellen Fischat.

Below is a list of the 2021 Inspiring Fifty South Africa winners

Confidence Tshilande Danai Nhando
Dhruti Dheda Dorcas Lekganyane
Dr. Avela Majavu Dr. Avis A. Nowbuth
Dr. Jaishree Naidoo Dr. Jarishma Gokul
Dr. Katekani Shingane Dr. Keabetwe T. Ncube
Keneiloe Molopyane Dr. Khomotso P. Maenetja
Dr. Khumbuzile Bophela Dr. Nosiphiwe Ngqwala
Dr. Petunia Malatji Dr. Surika Sookram
Dr. Tarylee Reddy Dr. Thandiwe Sithole
Dr. Zamantungwa Khumalo Haniefa Gaibe
Helga Stegmann Keoikantse Botlholo
Hombisa Mbokotho Janet Sawari
Jeshika Ramchund Keitumetsi Tsotetsi
Lindokuhle Tshuma Mapule Malau
Liziwe Maseko Lungile Ntuli-Bobo
Mantsie Hlakudi Martha Chadyiwa
Mushfiqoh Samodien Nivashnee Ramparsad
Paballo Mosala Mvuwo P. Tshavhungwe
Professor Benita Olivier Professor Rebecca Rogers Ackermann
Refilwe Buthelezi Rogeema Kenny
Shiela Yabo Shilpi Jain
Sister Basha Tebogo Mashile
Thandeka I. Mhlanga Thato Schermer
Thulile Khanyile Tiara Pathon
Zakithi Mkhize Zule Vuuren


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