Reports have proven that less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. Although there has been a rise in the number of women carrying out studies in scientific fields, there are still relatively few women in science in the workplace.
Some of the challenges that women in science have to overcome include a sense of belonging, harassment and bullying, as well as being compensated differently from their male counterparts.“Despite these challenges, women, women with companies housed at The Innovation Hub, have broken down the barriers and have succeeded at creating innovations that aim to change the lives of those around them”, said Advocate Pieter Holl, CEO at The Innovation Hub.
To highlight the wonderful work being done by women, in what remains a largely male-centred industry, Innovation Hub honoured two South African women yesterday, in light of International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Sibongile Mongadi and Kathryn Malherbe are adding tremendous value to the scientific community with innovations from their respective companies, Uku’hamba and Invisio AI.
Mongadi is an entrepreneur currently incubated at The Innovation Hubs’ eKasiLabs Soweto programme. eKasiLabs provides business development support to startups in various Gauteng townships.
Uku’hamba focuses on improving the conditions of amputees by providing lightweight, durable, water-resistant, custom-made and low-cost prosthetics. Her invention ultimately serves to improve the living conditions of those who have had life-altering amputations.
“I was troubled by the fact that only 30% of amputees in SA have access to prosthetic care. This provoked me to make a positive impact and to start producing low-cost prosthetic limbs to improve amputees’ quality life of by giving them back their independence,” commented Mongadi.
Another woman pushing the limits of science is Kathryn Malherbe. She has worked in clinical practice for the past 15 years and wanted to understand why breast cancers are at times missed during ultrasound imaging.
Malherbe believes that their innovation can make a real change in the high mortality rate currently associated with breast cancer in South Africa. “In order to do give cancer a ‘name’, you require on-site infrastructure to do a biopsy to send to the pathologists who have to evaluate the breast tissue under the microscope to identify what type of cancer it is,” she said.
“Most clinics don’t have the facilities needed, and having thorough biopsies done can take up to six months for a patient to get the answer they need, delaying their standard care of practice,” said Malherbe” added the Radiography and Mammography Master’s graduate.
In closing, Holl said that it is important that female scientists stick together to overcome inequalities in the scientific workplace.” The sharing of resources and networking has helped set women up for success, and we encourage women to keep doing so,” he said.