Topic:  Women in STEM: breaking the glass ceiling

Prof Nita Inderlal Sukdeo is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Quality and Operations Management within the School of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.  She obtained a Masters in Quality, from the Durban University of Technology and a PhD in Engineering Management from the University of Johannesburg.  She is currently registered for a second PhD in Quality Engineering.  She is an active researcher in the field of total quality management and operations management.  Her field of expertise also include advanced manufacturing technologies, Artificial Intelligence in the manufacturing sector, smart factory, Quality 4.0 framework, quantitative analysis, quality management systems, quality auditing and risk assessment.  She is a qualified Lead Auditor, proficient in ISO standards and certification.  She is chairperson and director of the Society for Operations Management in Africa (SOMA).  She is a professional member of the Southern African Society for Quality (SASQ).  Empowering and advocating women in Engineering and STEM as the chairperson for Faculty’s Women in Engineering and the Built Environment (WiEBE).

Abstract:  One of the greatest opportunities and ironically the greatest challenges that women face is our ability to accept our self-worth.  The way we view ourselves is formed largely by the environment that we work in.  Women are often adversely affected by perceived differences in leadership styles with a women’s approach being described as relational and emotional, women have a more empathetic and compassionate character.  Women are instinctively caregivers and motherly figures.  This can work to their advantage or against them, depending on the environment in which they work.  Some people see empathy and compassion as a weakness but it can be a women’s greatest asset when dealing with employees or peers.  An evaluation of our dedication and commitment to the empowerment of girls and women also extends to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).Research has shown that there is a skills shortage in majority of these fields.  There are also fewer women in STEM fields.  Globally, only 10% of young women seek to pursue STEM careers and only 14% of the workforce for STEM fields are female.  Gender stereotypes and gender bias are driving women away from pursuing careers in STEM fields.   Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women in science and engineering fields. Yet they continue to be excluded or exclude themselves from participating fully in these fields.

Date: 21 August 2023

Time: 11h00


August 21, 2023

Disclaimer: The University of Johannesburg encourages academic debate and discussion that are conducted in a manner that upholds respectful interaction, safety of all involved, and freedom of association as enshrined in the law, the Constitution, and within the boundaries of the University policies. The views expressed during events are expressed in a personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Johannesburg.

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