Mapula Motana is a 29-year-old qualified Mathematics Teacher. Her role at Emagqabini Education Academy is to lead After School programmes, connect with strategic partners, and support volunteer tutors. She holds qualifications in BSc Mathematics & Statistical Science and BSc Honours in Computational Science from the University of Western Cape. Mapula is passionate about uplifting the youth, specifically young black girls from under-resourced communities.
In your opinion, why do you think it’s important for more young women to pursue STEM careers?
Currently, STEM careers are male dominated; more young girls pursuing STEM careers narrows gender gaps and more specifically the gender pay gaps. This is also instrumental in breaking the gender stereotype that girls perform poorly in STEM subjects when compared to boys. Additionally, there is plenty of room for women to bring diversity to the workplace. Having said that, STEM workplaces can benefit from a more well-rounded perspective from a variety of people.
What support do you think is needed to encourage more women in STEM and what role can our communities play?
We (by “we” I mean women who already have careers in STEM) must engage girls at primary and high school levels to raise the visibility of STEM subjects as a potential career trajectory. Ongoing strong mentorship and networking programmes need to be established for young girls to access. Additionally, our communities, the government and the private sector can play a key role by providing financial support through scholarships, training and internship opportunities targeting high school and undergraduate girls. Educators must create access to Mathematics and Science programmes that invite the involvement of girls.
How would you motivate a young girl who wishes to follow this path but thinks they are not good enough?
“If you’re beautiful, you’re led to believe that you can’t also be smart. But you can be fun and fit and social and be really smart. And the smarter you are, the more capable you’ll be to handle whatever challenges come up in life.” – Danica Mckellar, Mathematician.
Women all over the world have been breaking stereotypes for centuries, don’t be afraid to join the movement. Careers have no gender roles.