UKZN Hosts Virtual Imbokodo Women in Leadership and Academia Series
Under the theme, Women in Leadership and Academia in Uncertain Times, UKZN’s Human Resources Division hosted the Imbokodo Women in Leadership webinar.
The two-part series focused on the challenges confronting women during COVID-19.
The first speaker, Professor Sarah Mosoetsa an Associate Professor at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) and the CEO of the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) presented her talk in three parts.
The first part, Femininity versus Toxicity examined how feminine qualities are often overlooked in the workplace. ‘Traits like empathy won’t get you that promotion, but as women we should be able to be both empathetic and good leaders,’ said Mosoetsa.
Tackling issues of transformation, the second part outlined how women still occupy lower end positions in the field of academia. Mosoetsa attributed this to the culture and structure of a system that is still dominated by the “Old Boys Network”. She listed a range of issues that need to be addressed in order for transformation to occur, including insufficient funding, the lack of postgraduate opportunities for women and the absence of a strong women’s network.
Questioning family roles during COVID-19 and how men have fared in comparison to women, Mosoetsa highlighted that men had used this time for themselves while women had taken on multiple roles ranging from child minder to chef, etc. ‘Lockdown saw women in academia publishing less while publications by men increased. This is because for women, lockdown has meant retreating and taking care of their families and children,’ she said.
The second speaker Director for Higher Education Resource Services South Africa (HERS-SA) Ms Brightness Mangolothi, encouraged women to collaborate and advocate for one another. She urged HR practitioners to develop a pipeline that identifies women leaders so as to provide them with sponsorship, mentorship and coaching.
Appealing to leaders to be authentic and invest in self-development, she said, ‘Know yourself as a leader - your strengths and weaknesses - because when there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm.’
Highlighting communication and transformation as key factors in uncertain times, Mangolothi said gender equality will not be achieved unless promotion criteria in Higher Education are reviewed.
She stressed the need to make time for wellness and self-care, saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and encouraged everyone to embrace compassion. ‘People will forget what you did for them but not how you treated them.’
Director of Human Resource Development at UKZN Mrs Busisiwe Ramabodu, thanked the panellists for their thought-provoking presentations and acknowledged Dr Siphelele Zulu, Executive Director: Human Resources for supporting the programme. She also extended her thanks to the Imbokodo Task Team, the Corporate Relations Division and her HRD team for assisting her in putting the webinar together.
The event was made possible by the HR and Imbokodo Task Team members; Professors Lebo Moletsane, Colleen Downs, and Nobuhle Hlongwa, Drs Gugu Mazibuko and Mariam Seedat-Khan; Ms Normah Zondo and the chair Mrs Busisiwe Ramabodu.
Words: Hlengiwe Khwela