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UKZN partners with Johnson & Johnson on WiSTEM2D programme

UKZN’s College of Humanities (School of Education, School of Built Environment and Development Studies) and the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science have collaborated with Johnson & Johnson on their WiSTEM2D (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design) initiative.

This ambitious initiative is a multifaceted approach to support and inspire girls and women of all ages in their pursuit of STEM2D (science, technology, engineering maths, manufacturing and design) studies and careers. The overall aim is to increase the number of women who enter and graduate from undergraduate programmes with degrees in STEM2D.

As part of the programme, grant funding over the last two years, totalling more than R1.3 million, has been provided to support programmes aimed at attracting more female students into STEM2D studies and understanding what some of the barriers are.

The UKZN and Johnson & Johnson collaboration began in the 2020 academic year to raise awareness of WiSTEM2D across UKZN and high schools within the feeder area. The project was initiated through the leadership of the School of Education, working collaboratively with the three schools (School of Built Environment & Development Studies’ architecture programme, School of Mathematics and Statistics, and the Sarchi Chair in the School of Engineering) in the partnership.

The collaboration focuses on bursaries to female students to support academic success in a range of areas across the STEM2D fields and the development of a model to increase women in STEM2D (using the research generated by the bursary students). Bursary recipients will also be mentored by senior students and women academics throughout their period of study.

Professor Cristina Trois, Sarchi Chair in Waste and Climate and UKZN team leader for the project, said: "Female master's and undergraduate engineering students had been selected to serve as ambassadors for the discipline and to attract bright young female minds to follow a career in sustainable engineering."

The programme also focuses on community outreach to promote learning and skills development/advancement directed primarily to attract and retain female high school leavers (Grade 10 to 12) entering the university into STEM2D subjects and develop them to become accomplished academics/scientists and/or professionals. This also includes teacher training STEM2D related subjects.

Dean and Head of the School of Education Professor Thabo Msibi said: "In the School of Education, top performing female students majoring in science, mathematics and computer science are awarded bursaries and mentorship to successfully complete their studies. In-service teachers will also be supported to improve the teaching of mathematics and science through targeted workshops. Top performing learners from Dinaledi schools will receive mentorship and support to successfully secure a space in STEM2D related university subjects."

Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies Professor Ernest Khalema added: "Like all scarce skills fields within the built environment, the discipline of architecture has been historically challenged with attracting young Black South African-born female students from quantile 1-3. This intervention will ensure that qualifying and talented students are attracted to the programme, nurtured through a mentorship programme, and in turn act as ambassadors for the university-led project and as mentors for other students within the STEM programme, providing an opportunity for interdisciplinary engagement and learning."

Professor Delia North, Dean and Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, said: "Five female data science and statistics students at the master's, honour's and final year levels have been selected to receive J&J bursaries based on their prowess and class participation. The girls will form the kernel of a Women in Analytics female ambassador team and act as role models and mentors to learners at school and at entry level to university. I am most appreciative of the generous sponsorship from J&J that has afforded these outstanding young ladies the opportunity to further their studies in 2021."

For more information, please contact:

Professor Thabo Msibi
[email protected]
(072) 422 7261

Professor Ernest Khalema
[email protected]
(083) 409 8805

Professor Cristina Trois
[email protected]
(082) 346 2644

Professor Delia North
[email protected]
(083) 661 3650

Editorial contacts
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