- As the Chairperson of the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) and a professor at one of the most prestigious higher institutions in the country, what has been your experience operating in spaces that are regarded as typically male dominated?
The country has well written laws and regulations in support of women leaders, however, we still have a long way towards the implementation aspect. As a female, I feel I have to work harder than the male counterparts. For instance, when some people communicate with me, their first impression is that I am a male because in their perception, the title of professor and or associate professor is associated with men. I find myself correcting people about my gender as the Board chairperson and a Director of a unit at the university, that is really not a good way to start an interaction or conversation. Hopefully, with time, people will get used to women being in leadership with titles other than Miss/ Ms/Mrs.
- Do you find that women are effectively represented in boardrooms where strategic decisions are made and in policy making?
Unfortunately, women are not well represented in senior positions. There are just a handful but really trying to make an impact in order to strike the gender balance. At times when a good suggestion is made, it may either be modified or disregarded just because a female person uttered it. People need to accept any good idea/suggestion without any gender biasness.
- Do you think more organisations would benefit from having more women at the top and why?
It is said when a woman is in leadership or power, she generally thinks of uplifting the community instead of just one person/friend. If we as women continue to hold each other’s hand, everybody, both male and female, young girls and boys, we will be able to uplift the entire nation. Ideally, everyone ought to embrace any form of development in any community without assigning gender for the purpose of improving the livelihood in any nation.
- A lot of successful women speak about experiencing imposter syndrome at one point or another in their career, do you ever experience these moments of self-doubt, and if so, how do you overcome it?
Personally, I certainly do not ever doubt myself because I am well motivated and try by all means to assist others wherever possible. However, we are not the same, some people always need assurance before making any decision. At times, people confuse a consultation process with being decisive but the two are different and should be treated as such.
- What advice would you give to young and upcoming female leaders?
The advice that I can give to others is that never ever doubt yourself as a person and the ability that you have. The Almighty has given each and everyone of us a talent, you just need to find yours and utilize it appropriately. Also, it is important to always treat other people with respect and dignity. To the young ones, in particular, please educate and affirm yourselves for a better future, in a youth lingo, ‘you’ve got this!’