Leading women in academia offer 7 tips for tackling 2021
Women in South Africa have come a long way since the 1950s. With the determination to break stereotypes, grit to shatter glass ceilings and contemporary thinking to create and channel leading innovations – there’s no stopping us now.
The year 2020 will go down in history as the great disruptor of plans. This was the year that forced us out of our comfort zones and had us adapt quickly to a new normal. However, the pandemic has also empowered many women in academia to gain insight into new possibilities and opportunities this year.
“The lockdown has brought significant changes to the academic landscape,” says Doctor Yeukai Mupangavanhu, who obtained her LLD in 2014 with the thesis “The regional integration of African trademark laws: Challenges and possibilities”.
“This period has seen me grow in a number of ways, ranging from being versatile to improving my computer skills,” she says. “I learnt that resilience and leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle are the keys to carrying you through difficult times.”
Professor Marique Aucamp says the pandemic has allowed her to see herself as an energetic pharmaceutical scientist, learning something new every day, eager to impart her knowledge to youth and humbled at opportunities.
“We are moving into a brand new and innovative direction, and the pandemic has shown us that it is indeed possible to move into a more virtual teaching and learning environment.”
For more inspiring stories from women blazing a trail in the world of higher learning, check out the University of Western Cape’s “Celebrating Women in Academia & Leadership” digimag.
Here are 7 inspiring tips from leading women in academia:
1. Embrace the new normal
“Embrace technology, increase empathy, set firm goals and give yourself a million second chances to get things right. This life is surely what we make of it, and what we make of it happens firstly – and most critically – in the heart.” – Dr Amiena Peck, who specialises in communication, soft skills development and, more recently, emotional intelligence.
2. Planning for 2021
“Formulate a strategic plan that you think will help to be successful, but be flexible around it. Don’t get caught off guard by any challenge that faces you. Being level headed minimises stressful situations, anxiety and fear.” – DR Tineke van Zyl, the acting HoD in the Department of Diagnostics and Radiology at UWC.
3. Be resilient and adaptable
“Academics and students must both be willing to have pre-set ideas a little bit less cast in stone and be more willing to learn from each other each day. Be willing to learning something new every day, eager to impart knowledge and humbled at opportunities.” – Professor Marique Aucamp.
4. The need for mind and body balance
“We have to be patient and agile as we are all in this ‘new normal’ as a collective.” – IT specialist, Yasmin forbes. Embrace blended learning and the possibility of being fully online. You can’t be too attached to face-to-face teaching. There has never been a greater need for work/ play balance, as well as balance in body, mind and soul than now.
5. Life is a teacher
“The lockdown has brought significant changes to the academic landscape. I learnt that resilience and leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle are the keys to carrying you through difficult times. Life has endless lessons to teach us, but only if we listen.” –Professor Isioma Ile.
6. Be conscious of your purpose and skills
“My profession will change forever due to the pandemic.” – Professor Mokgadi Moletsane, an expert in education and career advancement. Lockdown has created an opportunity to create new skills as well as opportunities to implement the skills that were not used. Be conscious of your purpose and use your attributes to give your best all of the time.
7. Make tech your new best friend
Technology has broadened horizons and made the world a lot smaller, making it easier to engage with professionals from all over the world, share ideas with people with similar interests and challenges, and keep in touch with people overseas via Skype. “The new skills I have acquired will only enhance my teaching practices going forward, as it can be used as an adjunct to traditional teaching methods.” – Professor Nadia Mohamed.