Ms. Tumo Fortunate Kedumele

As a child I always happened to love sciences, technology and especially astronomy because of the dark skies in my home village. Hence as I grew up, I pursued a career in STEM and in the space sector.

Country of origin

Botswana

Which company do you work for?

Women in STEM-BW-WiS

What is your specific area of specialisation?

Space Science, Technology and STEM Education and Research

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

I have been in the STEM field for nine years now. I studied BEng Telecommunications Engineering with Botswana International University of Science And Technology (BIUST) from 2012 to 2017. In 2016 I worked for Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) as an Associate Researcher intern. I then went into the Space Science and Technology sector specifically in the Radio Astronomy Technical and Observational field of which I participated in, 2017 to 2018. Since then, I have been with Women in STEM-BW-WiS till date. Women in STEM-BW-WiS is a start-up company based in Botswana, Palapye Town and it is in the business of Space Science and Technology education and research. It specialises in dispensation of Space Science, Technology, STEM and Astronomy knowledge tools and resources to the youth and women.

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?

Women’s skills, knowledge and experience are often undermined in the STEM field especially in the Technology and Engineering sector. Sometimes society does not believe that a woman is as capable as a man can be in the STEM fields. This issue is the major reason for women in Africa changing professions from STEM fields to other more “societally feminine” and comfortable fields. I have had my fair share of this experience and it has compelled me to be a women’s empowerment activist and bring about change to ensure that women aspire and pursue careers in the STEM fields and sustain them.

I advise and encourage women to always stand up for their visions, dreams, ambitions, rights as well as work hard and smart towards achieving them. As women we need to be aware of the fact that, we lose a lot due to societal perceptions and status quo that hinder us to be simply humans and individuals just as the men are. We are unique and so our skills, knowledge, experience and how we apply our intelligence and tactics in these fields is not akin to how men do things. That is what we need to appreciate, respect and enforce by continuing to pursue goals in the STEM industries. Challenges will always be there, but keeping faith, working hard and smart as well as forming collaborations with other women will definitely get us far. Let’s be the phenomenal change that we embody!

What inspired you to join this industry?

I have always admired women that stand their ground, live life to the fullest and bring change to the world through their visions such as Marie Curie and my mother. My mother has been in teaching for 32 years in the Math and Science fields in basic education. She inspired me to love knowledge and discover ventures in the STEM fields. Hence, I have always aspired to make change in my societies by the visions and passions that I have through STEM knowledge and research. As a child I always happened to love sciences, technology and especially astronomy because of the dark skies in my home village. Hence as I grew up, I pursued a career in STEM and in the space sector.

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

There are young women that I have come across that are making changes in policy making and strategies in improvement of Science, Technology and Engineering fields to accommodate more women in leadership roles. More women are also pursuing enterprises in the STEM fields such as techpreneurship, particularly in this Covid-19 pandemic. In the space sector, more women are getting involved in technology projects such as Cubesats and Space Tech start-up companies. These changes are setting the record clear and straightforward that women are very resourceful and impactful in their communities.

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

There is a need to demystify the ideas that hinder young women and girls to pursue STEM careers such as engineering and technical work is only meant for the male gender.

We also need carry out, outreach projects that focus on showing women and girls how their intelligence, skills, knowledge, experience and thought patterns are relevant to the STEM fields as well as the changes that they can bring into their lives and societies by their participation in STEM journeys.We need to make changes to status quo that is hindering women to continue with their STEM careers particularly in the workplace.

There is a need to influence leaders and policy makers to encourage women participation in leadership roles in the STEM fields, this will reflect well to young women and girls to aspire for careers in leadership positions and in the STEM fields.

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?

They should pursue their visions, dreams and ambitions in the STEM, tech and space sector with a fierce passion and a clear purpose. These fields are challenging to pursue especially in Africa, yet they are the most rewarding because of the opportunities, knowledge, networks available.

It is important to work hard & smart, to have and keep the faith of growth, to collaborate with other women and men to grow together. They should also seek out mentors, academic and industry advisors in the chosen field they pursue in STEM, taking note that no man is an island and that we all stand on shoulders of giants. As young women and girls, we can be the symbols of change in our societies

When not working, what do you do for fun?

If I am not working, I love to keep busy by reading, writing, creative DIY projects, adventurous outings in nature, outreach projects and doing career coaching for young people.

Social media handles

LinkedIn

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