Fourteen recipients of the Johnson & Johnson Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design (WiSTEM2D) scholarship attended a two-day workshop in Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast.
The retreat was organised and facilitated by Dr Bridget Horner and Professor Yanga Zembe-Zondi of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies. Confidence coach Mrs Khethiwe Makhethi assisted the students in finding and developing their unique confidence and purpose, aligning their purpose with the potential to serve others and earn an income.
Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer, Ms Princess Sibanda and Ms Stephanie Jenkins from UKZN’s Drama and Performance Studies creatively explored the potential of women in science and their collective responsibility as mentors to other women and society as a whole. I am because you are, ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ served as a powerful reminder of their relationship with others.
The retreat was also an opportunity to establish a peer mentoring programme.
UKZN joined the J&J initiative in 2021 to increase the number of women who enter and graduate from undergraduate programmes with degrees in STEM2D by raising awareness of WiSTEM2D across UKZN and high schools within the Institution’s feeder area. The project was initiated through the leadership of the School of Education, working collaboratively with the School of Built Environment and Development Studies’ architecture programme, the School of Mathematics and Statistics, and the SARChI Chair in the School of Engineering.
Education student Ms Taryn Valerie commented, ‘This workshop showed us that as women, we share something in common in that we’ve been marginalised throughout history in these fields. It allowed me to tap into my inner role model who is an inspiration to myself and others. As women, we often look to celebrities and unrealistic role models when there are women in our local communities that are so inspirational.’
Architecture student Ms Aphiwe Tshazi described the event as inspiring, informative and educative. ‘I gained knowledge on what it means to be a woman in STEM and was also exposed to the available opportunities for women in these fields.’
She advised women in STEM ‘to always keep in mind that in the midst of all the good and bad they will face in pursuing their careers, they are in this field because of their belief in science and their worthiness to be afforded this opportunity.’