Dikeledi Pitso

Master the ability to bounce back from whatever the industry throws you with and continue to refine your skills to be relevant to industry needs.

Country of origin

South Africa

Which company do you work for?

Western Cape Department Of Agriculture

What is your specific area of specialisation?

Agricultural Economics /Agri-enterprise development

How long have you been in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields?

14 years

As a woman in a male dominated industry, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

The patriarchy and gender gap have been challenging as they have influenced the perception of some clients and colleagues. Which has led to some resistance in the field, second guessed in terms of one’s competency and being overlooked when it came to influential positions that I qualified for. I overcame all by letting my work speak for me. I am result oriented, I focus on the outcome and don’t let distractions get in the way.

What inspired you to join this industry?

Curiosity, Grade 1 at a farm school where my mom taught, I witnessed something remarkable. Villagers cooled water by just wrapping a container with a soaked cloth and hanging it under a tree. I was amazed and wanted to know more about nature, science and trade combined as well as being exposed to both farm life (rural area) and peri-urban area I wanted to know more about how connected these areas are and the field of agricultural economics afforded me that.

What changes, if any, have you seen in your field with regards to women in your field?

There has been an increase in the share of female agricultural sciences graduates including MSc and PhDs and there is also an increase in participation of female agri-entrepreneurs. Much work still needs to be done though, to address some inequalities that still exists in the field.

How can we attract more women to consider a career in the STEM fields?

I believe we can attract more women to consider a career within STEM fields through mentoring and coaching. Having a female mentor gives the female mentee an idea of what they will become, it affords them the platform to learn from one another and sustain the skill set in the field. I advocate for that.

If you were to advise other young women starting their careers in the tech or within the STEM fields, what is the one thing you would say to them?

Master the ability to bounce back from whatever the industry throws you with and continue to refine your skills to be relevant to industry needs.

When not working, what do you do for fun?

I read, cook and started baking recently and because I am a farm girl at heart. I visit a lot of wine farms 🙂

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