Palesa Sekhejane

Read books on humanity and ancient African science. Learn about the gender complexities. That will make the science you study and pursue as women to have a meaningful impact in your personal life and those around you

Country of origin

South Africa

Which company do you work for?

Human Sciences Research Council

What is your specific area of specialisation?

Biomedical science

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

13 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?

There are challenges related to infantilisation, sexism and exclusion. Unfortunately, working harder is often a requirement. It also doesn’t mean immediate recognition. I cannot claim to have overcome those challenges when it’s still a challenge for many women and they have been institutionalised through the gender gap; fewer women in middle to senior positions; preferring women to be perpetual learners or interns, while men are seen as job and responsibility ready.

What inspired you to join this industry?

I have always loved science. It’s stimulating. However, I have come to appreciate interdisciplinarity and trans disciplinarity as science is traditionally removed from humanity and society.

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

There are more women wanting to practice in the sciences and they are also doing well from school level.

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

Through policy changes that enable an environment for levelled playing fields for women. Equal pay for equal work. Closing the tap on leakage of skills and prevention of school dropout rates for both girls and boys

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?

Read books on humanity and ancient African science. Learn about the gender complexities. That will make the science you study and pursue as women to have a meaningful impact in your personal life and those around you. My generation is that of pure science and maths. We need diversity in learning and mixing of sciences.

When not working, what do you do for fun?

Exercise and catchup with family and friends over wine and good discussions.

 

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