Connecting women in chemistry

18 Feb 2020 - 10:00

Women in chemistry from UCT, UWC, Stellenbosch University and CPUT participated in the Global Women’s Breakfast this week.

The 2020 Global Women’s Breakfast, an initiative spearheaded by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, brought together like-minded women from Cape Town’s leading universities for a morning of networking, discussion and debate around the field of chemistry.

Hosted by the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Department of Chemistry, the breakfast, held on Wednesday, 12 February, at Rhodes Memorial Restaurant, was one of 242 events that took place around the globe – just a day after the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Academics and postgraduates from UCT, the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Stellenbosch University and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology spent the morning engaged in discussions on their respective careers, explored potential opportunities for development and shared ideas about advancements in the field.

According to UCT organiser, Dr Cesarina Edmonds-Smith, the event was an opportune time for women from various universities in the Mother City with otherwise demanding teaching and learning schedules to get together, exchange ideas and discuss common interests.

“This is an opportunity to network, and for lecturers it’s even an opportunity to connect with past students and catch up on where they are in their careers. That’s always a proud moment,” Edmonds-Smith said.

Lasting connections

For Candice Franke, a nano-electrochemistry lecturer at UWC, the event was invaluable. Franke is currently completing her PhD in the SensorLab in the Department of Chemistry at UWC, with a specialisation in the development of phenotype tuberculosis biosensors.

“It’s the first time that I am part of this event and I think it’s great. It’s an opportunity to learn from others in your field and just connect and find commonalities,” she said.


“It’s an opportunity to learn from others in your field and just connect and find commonalities.”

Sinqobile Mahlaba, a PhD student in the chemical engineering department at UCT, shares Franke’s sentiments.

Mahlaba, who refers to herself as a “chemistry missionary”, said she liked that the event was not “chiefly scientific” and that attendees could engage on an array of subjects.

“Together, we covered some broad issues … and this included tips on being a researcher in this field. [I found it] very useful.”

The 2021 Global Women’s Breakfast will be organised and hosted by UWC.

Story:  Staff Writer

Photo: Lerato Maduna.