_: Department of Science and Technology (DST) is inviting the media to the 2013 Women in Science Awards which will see special awards being made to female scientists for their innovation in combating violence against women in society.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, will address the event to be held on Friday, 16 August at the Hilton Hotel, in Sandton, from 18h30 to 22h00. Prof Cheryl Potgieter, the newly-appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal will be the guest speaker. Prof Potgieter has published in both local and international journals on race, gender, sexuality and other areas related to transformation.
The special awards will be made in the category on “The Role of Science and Research against Violence towards Women”. This is aligned to the 2013 theme for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women which is “the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”.
The DST believes science has much to contribute to the eradication of such violence, through innovation that assist in preventing human trafficking, empowerment and protection of women and girls, and the response of the criminal justice system in this regard, among others.
The Women in Science Awards were initiated in 2003 to honour outstanding women scientists and researchers in the areas of science, engineering and technology; humanities and social sciences and indigenous knowledge systems. The award winners are profiled as role models for younger female scientists and researchers, with the aim to dispel the myth that science is for men.
The DST hopes that the achievements of these winners will encourage other women to persevere in overcoming gender discrimination in order to contribute to research and knowledge generation and is certain the finalists and winners will continue to develop the next generation of researchers by mentoring younger scientists, particularly women.
If South Africa is to become a knowledge economy, it cannot afford to neglect the skills and talents of over half its population. These awards are therefore part of our efforts to boost the representation of women in science and technology-related careers, and the generally low proportion of women graduations in these fields. The situation is somewhat improving though, with women in 2011 constituting 45% of all instruction and research staff in the country’s higher education institutions, as well as 48% of all master’s graduates and 42% of all doctoral graduates.
Unfortunately many of the positions women hold in research and academia are at lower ranks. However, about 50% of all students supported by the National Research Foundation at both master’s and doctoral levels during the 2009/10 to 2012/13 were women.
Coinciding with Women’s Month, this initiative serves a symbolic purpose in the Department’s efforts to ensure gender equity in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) participation and performance.
This year’s awards will be made in the life sciences and humanities categories and include distinguished women scientists, distinguished young women in science, fellowships and Tata Africa Scholarships for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology.
For media enquiries please contact:
Veronica Mohapeloa, Deputy Director: Media Liaison
Cell: 082 882 3818
Tel: 012 843 6788