Senamile Masango

Choosing to follow a path less travelled by those of your demographic will always be a difficult decision, don’t give up, fail forward. Keep going – you can do it! It is often hard, but if you work hard and do the best you can, it will work out.

Country of origin

South Africa

Which company do you work for?

Senamile Masango Foundation

What is your specific area of specialisation?

Nuclear Scientist

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

Since 2012

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?

Number one is the colour of my skin more than that I am a woman, it been almost more than 20 years of freedom, but this is one of the greatest challenge in this field. No one believes in you, you have to prove yourself first that you can do it and there is nothing wrong with your skin colour, you can think too.

Number two, if you are a woman, they always look down on you like you are not capable or you don’t deserve to be here. I always use this in a positive way, I will work hard and ensure that I excel, and what works for me is that I am too ambitious, I want to break every barriers and I am not limited.

What inspired you to join this industry?

When I was in Grade 8, my geography teacher Mr Ziqubu introduced us to astronomy, and I learned that there are people who travel to space. I was intrigued by the universe and where we come from. I wanted to be a first African to travel to space, but Mark Shuttleworth beat me to it in 2002. There are few women in this field, so I wanted to make a difference and inspire girls.

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

Women are encouraged to participate, and they are also given a preference when it comes to positions (hiring).

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

Expose young girls to STEM
Encourage participation in special programs
Generate interest and confidence
Inspire self-efficacy
Encourage STEM subjects from an early age
Make women feel welcome in these roles
Knock down barriers everywhere you find them

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 must push past gender stereotypes, choosing to follow a path less travelled by those of your demographic will always be a difficult decision, don’t give up, fail forward. Keep going – you can do it! It is often hard, but if you work hard and do the best you can, it will work out.

When not working, what do you do for fun?

I train and watch reality television.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter

LinkedIn

Nominate yourself, a friend, colleague or inspiring women in the technology and STEM fields to have their story featured. Let’s collectively join and create a movement of women leaders in the industry. Nominate with a social media handle in the comments of our social post and we will get in touch so we can inspire more women.