Women in STEM: Lessons from the Howard University Republic of South Africa Project

Presenter: Prof Maseka Lesaoana, University of Limpopo

Presenter: Mrs Reshoketswe Mokobane,University of Limpopo

The DST afforded 40 masters and doctoral female students and 10 supervisors, faculty members and researchers from Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs) in SA to participate at the Howard University (HU)-Advance Institutional Transformation Conference in Washington DC in October 2017. Also participating at the Conference were government agencies and corporations from both countries. The Conference was aimed at creating a new platform of engagement, advocacy and empowerment between SA, HU, global partners and women in STEM. Each session addressed the challenges and opportunities for women of color in the field of science and technology.

The Conference provoked professional debates, built the much needed partnerships among HDI students, faculty members in SA and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the US. Discussions on collaboration, enhancing the quality of learning among students in SA and exchange programmes, are crucial for the STEM fields in SA. There is need to increase the number of women (and men) across all STEM fields. Universities visited in the US have special facilities for women.

Our SA group were keen to collaborate with others in their respective fields of study. Students were highly motivated to complete their studies, join the cadre of STEM women experts, and share their experiences with others back home. A pursuit for local women in STEM could ignite a platform to implement the lessons learnt.


Maseka Lesaoana is a Research Professor in the Department of Statistics and Operations Research, University of Limpopo (UL), South Africa. She received her Bachelor of Arts, Master of Mathematics and Doctor of Philosophy from the National University of Lesotho, University of Waterloo (Canada) and the University of Southampton (UK), respectively. She is also a Member of Council for Statistics South Africa and represents UL and the School of Mathematical Sciences at the National Research Foundation for Doctoral Training in Mathematics and Statistics and the Centre of Excellence in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. She has supervised a number of PhD and Masters’ students in statistics and operations research. She has a considerable experience in collaborating with other renowned researchers locally, regionally and internationally. Her research interests are in Applied Statistics and Operations Research, with real life applications.

Mrs Reshoketswe Mokobane,University of Limpopo

Reshoketswe Mokobane is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Statistics and Operations Research, University of Limpopo (UL), South Africa. She is working on the application of small area estimation methods in modelling service delivery at ward level in South Africa: water, sanitation and electricity. She is one of the 40 South African students who participated at the Women in STEM Conference in Washington DC on 24-27 October 2017. She worked at WITS for 5 years and UNISA for a year.