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Empowering the next generation of female leaders

- Wits University

The STEM MentHER programme held its annual induction for Grade 12 learners in pursuit of careers in STEM fields.

The STEM MentHer program, with the support of National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences (NITheCS) and the Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Science (CoE-MaSS), recently organized induction events at several prestigious universities across South Africa. These events aim to encourage more female Grade 12 learners to pursue careers in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) by guiding and inspiring them to enter these realms of study.

STEM event

The induction event, hosted at Wits University, signified the start of an empowering journey for young women in STEM. Dr. Cerene Rathilal, the founder of the programme, warmly welcomed female students from various backgrounds, marking the commencement of the dynamic year-long mentorship program. “It is so nice to see how far the STEM programme has come, and to know that this idea that came from my experiences as a female in the STEM resulted in the birth of STEM MentHER,” said Rathilal 

STEM MentHer Programme Keynote Speaker

 The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. Farhahna Allie, from the Biochemistry department, lecturing in Molecular Plant Pathology at the University of Johannesburg.  Allie was part of the programme as a mentor during its inception in 2022. 

“It is such an honour to speak to you about a topic that is incredibly important to me, which is the transformative power of mentorship. We cannot underestimate the impact that strong mentors can have on an individual’s life and career trajectory. When navigating challenges or pursuing ambitious goals, they shine a light on the path forward,” said Allie

Allie continues, “My very first mentor was my mother, who instilled in me an insatiable curiosity about the world and how thing work.” This happened to be a full circle moment for Allie as she is now a mentor to others. 

STEM MentHer Programme Mentors

During the induction, participants were introduced to the programme’s objectives, structure and their mentors for the year. Female academics and postgraduate students, serving as mentors, shared their experiences and insights, inspiring the attendees to envision themselves as future leaders in STEM-related fields.

The programme will offer tailored mentorship, providing guidance and support to the deserving Grade 12 female students. Through this initiative, participants gain access to specialized programmes designed to enhance their understanding of STEM subjects and career opportunities. Moreover, they have the chance to serve as role models for future generations of girls, nurturing a supportive community of budding STEM professionals.