Awards hon­our women re­searchers, sci­en­tists

Vuk'uzenzele - - Women's Month - Su­laiman Philip In­no­va­tion is a cat­a­lyst

BY Cel­e­BrAt­ING women role mod­els, the Depart­ment of Science and Tech­nol­ogy hopes to in­spire bud­ding sci­en­tists, es­pe­cially young girls, to choose the sci­ences as a ca­reer path.

the Depart­ment of Science and Tech­nol­ogy’s an­nual Women in Science Awards takes place in Au­gust. This year’s theme is Women’s Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment in the Chang­ing World of Work.

Since 2003 the awards have hon­oured the achieve­ments of South African women sci­en­tists and re­searchers.

Min­is­ter Naledi Pan­dor – who re­cently re­ceived an honorary doc­tor­ate from NOVA Univer­sity in Lis­bon – un­der­stands the im­por­tance of role mod­els. Her mother Fik­ile Matthews was one of the first African women to at­tend Fort Hare Univer­sity to read science. Speak­ing at the Science Olympiad Awards early in July, the Min­is­ter spoke of the im­por­tance of science and tech­nol­ogy.

In­no­va­tion alone, she re­minded the young sci­en­tists, is not the an­swer, but it is a cat­a­lyst.

It fell to young peo­ple like the sci­en­tists be­ing hon­oured, she said, to use their tal­ents to find new ways to do things. “There are many ex­cit­ing puz­zles that young minds such as your own could play a role in re­solv­ing. For ex­am­ple, what should be done to en­cour­age mil­lions of young peo­ple to love and suc­ceed in math­e­mat­ics? You could help us find a so­lu­tion to this.”

The Women in Science Awards are just one way the depart­ment is en­cour­ag­ing more women to choose a ca­reer in science. Fifty-five per cent of the depart­ment’s bur­sary funds and Na­tional Re­search Foun­da­tion fund­ing has been set aside for women.

At the awards cer­e­mony in 2014 the min­is­ter ex­plained that women re­searchers and stu­dents were often side-lined be­cause they found it dif­fi­cult to ac­cess funds. “I want to make it eas­ier for women to ac­cess fund­ing, be­cause I be­lieve fe­male sci­en­tists and re­searchers have much to con­trib­ute to our fu­ture.”

For Min­is­ter Naledi Pan­dor, the Women in Science Awards are about cre­at­ing role mod­els.

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