Excellence Personified: Celebrating our Women in Research

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 Dr Nthabi Taole-Mjimba, DVC: Research, Partnership and Innovation 

To wrap up Women’s Month yesterday (31 August), The Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Partnership and Innovation, Dr Nthabi Taole-Mjimba hosted an event to celebrate and recognize our prolific female academics.

The virtual session also aimed to inspire the next generation of women to pursue their research journeys.

Dr Taole-Mjimba said it was most fitting to close Women’s Month with an event that recognizes and celebrates the University’s female researchers who continue to portray excellence in their academic careers.

“The female scholars at this University continue to make us proud, both in the national and international arenas. Most recently, our Dean of Health Sciences Prof Mzikazi Nduna was named among the Mail & Guardian Power of Women 2022 award recipients,” said the DVC.

The speakers included Prof Himla Soodyall, Executive Officer at the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) who delivered the key address. Prof Soodyall congratulated UFH women for their sterling work.

“The awards and recognitions that you have attained are not only in recognition of the University but these achievements are part and parcel of the pipeline that produces the next generation of scholars that will benefit our society at large.”

She also encouraged the researchers to be passionate about the work they do. “In order to become a great scientist you need to be passionate about what you want to do and identify what you need to do to make a difference in the world,” she said.

The voices of the University’s female scholars were well represented by three female academics who recently delivered their professorial lectures, signifying their promotion to Full Professorship. They are Prof Atim O.A.B. Aderibigbe; Prof Munacinga Simatele and Prof Susan Smith.  Dr. Yeshona  Sukai our youngest National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher, was also among the speakers.

In their presentation, the four UFH researchers shared their remarkable and inspiring stories of being a woman in academia. This includes overcoming and juggling challenges such as being a mother, wife and an academic – simultaneously.

“My advice to those who want to have an academic career and also have a family is to be courageous, don’t ever look down on yourself, put in place a good support system and lastly, take good care of yourself,” said Prof Aderibigbe.

Prof Simatele said: “I have learned from being a woman that I can multitask without having to kill myself. I am at the point where I am learning as I go that a work life balance is important and possible.”

Prof Smit recalled and joked about how she become a ma (Mother) and obtained her MA (Masters) at the same time.

Dr Sukai shared the inspiring journey that led her to become the University’s youngest NRF-rated Researcher.

The profound and inspiring conversation was chaired by Dr Connie Bitso, Director of UFH Libraries.