Caption: Ms Dorothy Ngila, Minister Naledi Pando, Prof. Caradee Wright, and Dr Rejoyce Gavhi-Molefe.

Dr Rejoyce Gavhi-Molefe one of the AIMS South Africa resident researcher and AIMS Women Mathematical Sciences (WiMS) mentoring program coordinator, recently joined co-convenors Prof. Caradee Wright and Dorothy Ngila to launch a documented account of inspirational and real stories about female academics who challenged the odds to realise their dreams.  Titled, ‘Because Science is Fun – Stories of Emerging Female Scientists in South Africa’ the inspiring compilation of stories were released by National Minister of Science & Technology, Honourable Naledi Pandor as part of the National Science Week Launch at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Saturday 5 August 2017.

The dynamic book presents the stories of 25 emerging South African female scientists with the aim to inspire the next generation of young female mathematicians, researchers and scientists to pursue their professional dreams.  It tells stories of how young women scientists have overcome a wide spectrum of obstacles to obtain their PhD degree, and embark on successful science-based careers, and who are engaged in science for society work.

The book reveals how the women overcame financial, personal and other challenges, dispelling misconceptions/myths about science and certain careers, and fighting against societal norms and beliefs to follow their dreams. The vivid recollections rouse emotion and provide sound inspiration to young people and especially girls and young women in South Africa, on the continent, and around the world.

“Through the book we hope to contribute to increasing the number of girls reaching Grade 9 who are interested in and able to pursue high school maths and science subjects, the number of Grade 12 girls graduating secondary school with a pass/distinction in maths and science, the number of female undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, researchers, lecturers and professors  in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The book also shares with maths and science teachers, parents, community leaders and other key stakeholders the importance of maths and science subjects and the need to encourage girls to participate and perform better in secondary school,”  added Dr Gavhi-Molefe.

The book was published independently and supported by the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) the DST, AIMS South Africa and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF). A website has also been created showcasing the book, please visit http://www.womeninstemi.co.za/ for more information.

The book profiles pioneering young academics such as Thifhelimbilu Daphney Bucher who is an AIMS alumnus and aspiring nuclear physicist who revealed how she had to endure a six kilometer walk in rain or under sunshine to graduate in Grade 12 at her secondary school as well as Rosita Endah Yoccgo, the current Research Manager at AIMS-NEI.

“As we celebrate Women’s month in South Africa, it is vital to remember the women who paved the path for us and ourselves continue to pave for the next generation of scientists. The book also aims to stimulate role models to reinvest their capabilities in communities,” said Dr Gavhi-Molefe.