UWC - Edition 3 - June 2021

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THE FUTURE

is female

At UWC, women are using cutting-edge methods to investigate our universe, examining everything from the DNA in our cells to the nuclear reactions at the heart of stars – and much more. Their work can change the way we view the world – and the way we interact with it. For example... Of UWC’s 19 SARChI Chairs, who help to promote research excellence and innovation and respond to the country’s social and economic challenges, 10 of them – that’s more than half – are women renowned nationally and internationally for their work. Of the seven UWC students selected, in as many years, to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany, to share their ideas on science and medicine with some of the finest scientists in the world, four have been women: solar energy nanoscientist Zebib Yunus Nuru, quantum dots researcher Sarah d’Souza, medical bioscientist Shireen Mentor and astrophysicist Nicole Thomas.

Of the over 22 000 students, approximately 60% are women.

Several UWC PhD Candidates have been awarded the prestigious L’Oreal-UNESCO Regional Fellowships For Women in Science in Sub-Saharan Africa – Aline Simo, Sekai Tambo, Candice Rassie and Usisipho Feleni – were among those young women scientists honoured for their work on nanomaterials, photovoltaic cells, TB nanosensors and medication dosages for breast cancer, respectively.

The Chair and Deputy-Chair of Council of UWC are both experienced women executives. Chair Yasmin Forbes has a sterling track record of more than 35 years in the information communications and technology industry, and Deputy-Chair, Cindy Hess, is a Choiseul Laureate – recognised as one of the top 100 young individuals who play a leading role in transforming Africa.

The University Registrar, Dr Nita Lawton-Misra, is another successful woman with a strong leadership and student support role – and also a registered psychologist and a certified life coach.

UWC’s three Deputy Vice-Chancellors are women at the very top of their field: Professor Vivienne Lawack (DVC: Academic), Professor Pamela Dube (DVC: Student Development and Support) and Professor José Frantz (DVC: Research and Innovation).

UWC women are A-rated researchers, NSTF32 Awardees, artists, nurses, entrepreneurs and more.


BALANCING ACT H e a lt H y w o r k- l i f e Habits redefined HOW many times, during a virtual meeting for work, have you had to mute your microphone or switch off your camera to ask your children to keep it down, tend to a sick parent or try to stop your dog from tearing a pillow to shreds? Perhaps you’ve seen other colleagues grappling with maintaining a healthy work-life balance in the academic space. I certainly have — so when I came across an article exploring this issue in the international journal Nature, I was not surprised. Research found that during the pandemic, women in academia in the US reported an increased workload but a decrease in productivity. Their personal well-being suffered and many, despite having partners, took on the bulk of childcare and family responsibilities. In this edition, we asked women from the University of the Western Cape to discuss their work and the challenges they face during this pandemic. They also give insight into how they are trying to maintain the elusive work-life balance in the often challenging academic space. By sharing their stories, we hope to, at the very least, offer some comfort and constructive advice on how to navigate this difficult road. We hope to learn lessons from the women featured in this digimag, to formulate an institutional response.

PROFESSOR VIVIENNE LAWACK Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic


Faculty of Arts & Humanities P r o f e s s o r H e i d i G r u n e b a ü m t o P ac H i e v e r

Perceptions of time and space ‘reshaped’ by pandemic PROFESSOR Heidi Grunebaüm is the director at the Centre for continues to be disproportionately borne by women, in general Humanities Research (CHR). and the most economically and socially vulnerable She completed her PhD at UWC in 2007, and women, in particular. Of course, this has implithen returned in 2011 to take up a post as cations for academic labour and for women academics, who also often carry the burSenior Researcher at the Centre for Humanities Research. den of invisible labour in our capacities as teachers, interlocutors, suAs a postdoctoral fellow at the pervisors and colleagues.” Centre for Humanities Research at UWC, she completed a monReflecting on the pandemic, she says that it “has reshaped ograph entitled Memorialisour perceptions of time and ing the Past: Everyday Life in space”. South Africa after the Truth “The effects of so much time and Reconciliation Commisspent on digital platforms sion, which was published for thinking, studying and in 2011. She also made teaching – as well as for the documentary feature mental, physical and emofilm, The Village Under the tional health – are not yet Forest, with Mark J Kaplan properly understood. Nor about the historiographical have we forged a shared debates on the founding naconceptual language to detional narratives of Israel. scribe them yet. Her most recent collaboraAnother factor has been the tive research project, Athlone in absence of the in-person comMind (2017) was an exhibition cumuning that is so fundamental to rated by Dr Kurt Campbell, a digital our health as social beings, and which platform and a book catalogue. helps us make sense of all these things. Over the years, Prof Grunebaüm has Without that, these difficulties are redoubled.” made a deep and lasting contribution to esShe is interested in re-imagining post-apartheid tablishing the intellectual foundations of the CHR’s South Africa by rethinking its research platform on aesthetics discursive terms – and is curand politics. She has also contrib“We live in a heteronormative rently engaging with the work of uted to the knowledge inventory of patriarchal world where the structural a number of anticolonial thinkers, the Factory of the Arts and its artpostcolonial theorists, filmmakers, ists in residence programme. burden of care for children, the elderly, novelists and poets to sketch the Much of her work is borne from an and the household continues to be contours of a non-partitioned imidea of place that responds to the disproportionately borne by women.” aginary. failed promises of post-apartheid “At the Centre for Humanities Redemocracy. Her training in literary, historical, postcolonial and cultural stud- search, planning for our programmes in the new Greatmore faies have given her unique insights into what the pandemic has cility in Woodstock is enormously energising and offers a longer, larger time frame into which we are thinking. This brings a exposed in society. “We live in a heteronormative patriarchal world where the struc- very welcome measure of stability and optimism in the midst of tural burden of care for children, the elderly, and the household so much uncertainty.”


Faculty of Arts & Humanities D r L e e - S h a e S a L m a S c h a r n i c k- U D e m a n S r i S i n g S ta r

Notion of a healthy work-life balance just a myth DOCTOR Lee-Shae Salma Scharnick-Udemans is the Senior Re- “We try to live in ways that honour each of our individual capacisearcher at the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Jus- ties and strengths. We still don’t always get it right, but we are tice at the University of the Western Cape. She is trained in the continually trying to honour our individual personal and profesintersectional and interdisciplinary study of religion. sional journeys as well as our familial commitment to each other Her expertise is in religion and media. She says, “I am interand our child. ested in the production, circulation and meanings “Having said that, most of my challenges were inof representations and discourses of religious ternal and I struggled with the same feelings diversity, religious pluralism and religious of loss, fear, anxiety, anguish, and later freedom. Working in a context that is grief that many others have reported. dominated by Christian theology, “I think the notion of a healthy workmy research orientation is part of life balance is a myth. It might just my political commitment to conbe another patriarchal constructesting the Christonormative tion, another unrealistic standpredilections of the field.” ard akin to those set by the On the subject of the panbeauty industry for women to demic, she has been trying endlessly strive for. I respect to allow for a more expanif some women feel they sive and nuanced view of have achieved this elusive the implications of Covid-19 balance — but I have not, on human existence and nor do I aspire to. experiences. “The category “It is an honour to do this of women is not universal work, and live a life of and factors such as race, earned privilege. Barring the status, seniority, domestic restrictions of living in a pancontext, physical ability and demic, right now I have the enhealth as well as mental health ergy and the passion to engage definitely determine the extent to fully with my many lives and I plan which women academics were afto do this to the best of my ability. fected. I speak to my therapist regularly, try “My domestic context is secure, wellto move my body every day, read pocontained and generally a source of joy etry, binge watch terrible television, take and freedom. I live with my husband and our my CBD oil, burn some imphepho, eat four-year-old son. When the pandemic some green stuff, drink lots of water hit it was difficult not having child care “I think the notion of a healthy work-life and hold my loved ones close. assistance and my usual support sys- balance is a myth. It might just be an- “I am currently participating in a prestem. However, since our home life is other patriarchal construction, another tigious programme on the development structured along principles of altruism, of public scholarship with North Eastern unrealistic standard … for women to University in the US. My latest research mutuality and respect, my partner and I were able to support each other with endlessly strive for.” project explores how women of colour the specificity that each of our varying express their religious diversity and reresponsibilities demanded. ligious agency on social media.”


Faculty of Community & Health Sciences P r o f e s s o r r i n a s wa r t t o P ac h i e v e r

Balancing life and work during lockdown proved challenging PROFESSOR Rina Swart has worked in the area of public health hold help, I found that household chores (cleaning, cooking, launnutrition since 1986. Her background training is in dietetics, and dry and gardening) took up a disproportionate amount of time her areas of interest are the policies and programmes that ad- compared to pre-Covid. Even though I was used to being actively dress malnutrition in all its forms — be it undernutrition, obesity involved in these over weekends, there was now much more to do on a daily basis. or micronutrient malnutrition. When thinking about the effect of the pandemic on women, she “I can just imagine that for women in academia who have younger children, that it would have been even more challenging. The says: “The answer to this question lies in the nature of the balance between life and work took a bit of a knock. household and pre-Covid responsibilities and inter“If I am honest, I have to say that I did not, and ests. My understanding is that the majority of still do not manage this well at all. My chilhouseholds in South Africa are either fedren say that my work is also my hobby, male-headed or have a traditional role so I often end up working all hours. allocation. In these households, I do The only thing that changes is my think women in academia would setting — sometimes it will be in have been disproportionately afthe bedroom, sometimes in the fected by the pandemic. Where lounge. I know it is unhealthy the nature of households difand found it difficult to manfers from the majority, there age pre-lockdown. Lockmay be a different experidown made this worse.” ence — for example, in a Looking ahead, Prof Swart single parent male-headed is working hard on planning household.” for a National Dietary InHer pandemic experience take study that is supposed was as caregiver to three to go into the field in July young adult males, her 2021. The tender for this was sons, who returned home awarded during lockdown in during this time and happily 2020. Logistically, it is a chalregressed to the “traditional” lenging project. role of children in the house. “My collaborators are HODs of “It was hard work to keep them Dietetics and Nutrition from 11 uniengaged in household chores. Alversities in the country — and to date, though I am partly to blame for taking all our planning had to be done virtually. on more than what was necessary. The nature of the data requires measure“The online learning environment was new ment of people to determine nutritional status, for them and all of them worked really hard, so as well as interviews to quantify the the mother with a soft heart tended to “The balance between life and food people eat daily. This means that occasionally spoil them by washing the dishes or doing the laundry when it was work took a bit of a knock. If I am hon- data collection needs to be done facetheir turn. est, I have to say that I did not, and still to-face. The third wave of Covid and delays in vaccination are therefore a “Especially during the early lockdown do not manage this well at all.” significant challenge.” period and the absence of any house-


Faculty of Community & Health Sciences D r S e r e n a I S a ac S

r I S I n g S ta r

Developing family and community resilience in a post-pandemic world DOCTOR Serena Isaacs is keenly aware of the daily struggle to of) work. Not only are we taking care of the house — cooking, create balance in families and individuals. She is a supervising cleaning and doing the laundry — but we also have to fit our Research Psychologist and a Senior Lecturer who professions into our home space as well. Creating has been with the Department of Psycholthat separation of work and personal space ogy at the University of the Western Cape has been quite the challenge.” since 2011. She graduated with a PhD Over the years, she has managed to in Psychology in April 2018 and her develop a resilient system for achievpostdoctoral work has focused on ing her goals. furthering the field of family resil“My priorities are based on my ience research in South Africa. life goals – both work and Her work has never been personal. At the beginning of more important than during every new year, I identify a list the pandemic. of main goals. For example, “It is hard to pinpoint how one of my goals for 2021 women are disproportionis to ensure that the proately affected because it’s gramme I developed is imsomething we experience plemented and evaluated. every day — even before Another goal is to ensure the pandemic. that all students I supervise “I see it in academia all the have received their ethics time. When you’re in a meetclearance and have collected ing and something needs to data. My third goal is to ensure be arranged or organised, inthat I participate in meaningful evitably there will be a woman and impactful community or outbehind it. reach activities. “You carry so much responsibility by “In order to achieve these goals, I definition of being a woman, and when need to ensure that each month, I have you add the label academic to that, you accomplished something to those ends. are carrying the weight of the world. We’re So, on Monday mornings I sit and prioritise looking after the current and next generation, not tasks for the week. At the end of the week, I go back only at home but at work as well (and these days, work is home). to that list and review what I was able to do and what I wasn’t able In academia, so much of what you do affects others and can have to complete and why. a significant impact on the rest of their “There’s never been a more pressing “Not only are we taking care of the lives. It’s no exaggeration to say that need for families to build resilience. people’s futures are in our hands.” house, but we have to fit our professions That’s why my aim is to contribute to When talking about work-home balinto our home space as well. Creating and develop the area of family and ance, Dr Isaacs admits that the lines can community resilience in a post-panget totally blurred. “Our work is now at that separation of work and personal demic world, and inspire others to folhome and our home is now (our place space has been quite the challenge.” low suit.”


Faculty of Dentistry P r o f e s s o r s u d e s h n i n a i d o o t o P ac h i e v e r

Importance of evaluating where to invest your energy most PROFESSOR Sudeshni Naidoo was promoted to Senior Profes- teaching and support; and intensified — doing more of the same sorship based on a proven research and mentorship record, thing). This caused both intellectual and health challenges for contribution to curriculum development, teaching excellence, de- women. partmental and faculty leadership, and service to academic and When asked what the hardest thing about dealing with the panprofessional fields locally, nationally and internationally. demic has been, Prof Naidoo admits that “the transition towards Today, she is an Emeritus Professor at the University of the West- online teaching has been an unwelcome distraction to the proern Cape as well as the Director of the World Health Organigress of writing and research during this time. sation Collaborating Centre for Oral Health. “Spending more time online teaching leaves you Her main research focus areas include infecwith less time for research. Organising ontious diseases and infection control; ethline seminars and supervising students ics, bioethics and research ethics; using digitally are obstacles to writing and information technology for teledenpublishing productivity. tistry; as well as trauma and child “There has also been an increase abuse. in the time needed for gen“For many women already jugeral admin, which has been gling ‘double burdens’ or ‘seca hindrance to conducting ond shifts’, the pandemic shatrobust research. There are tered the precarious, fragile delays in the administrabalance between their protive processes, such as fessional and personal lives. the registration and ethical Routines were upended. clearance of research proDaily habits have completely jects (due to the reduced changed; homes suddenly number of Senate Higher became workplaces and Degrees and Research childcare spaces.” Committee meetings) and She sums up the current situabecause of the inability to tion by observing that women’s collect data, carry out laboparticipation in academic life has ratory work, face-to-face inbeen severely threatened. terviews, observational studies, “The disruptions caused by the Covetc.” id-19 pandemic have endangered the The pandemic helped her realise engagement, experience and retention how important it was to continuously of women in academia, making jobs more evaluate where she needed to invest her precarious than before. This has caused much energy most. anxiety and stress, especially since the demand for “I was careful to engage with and prioritise self-care academic performance from university management continues for my mental and physical health. Essentially, the balance of a as normal.” good quality of life together with a healthy work-life centred on This view is reinforced in a study conducted by Professor Jona- more effective time management, stress management, keepthan Jansen and his team entitled Gening my husband and family members der Inequality in the Shadow of Covid-19. happy, and ensuring the sustainable “I was careful to engage with and They showed that there was a dramatic prioritise self-care for my mental and management of my professional and increase in the academic and adminpersonal lives. These were useful physical health.” istrative workload for women working techniques that helped me integrate under lockdown conditions (additional work-life-family commitments.”


Faculty of Dentistry D r P r i s c i l l a B r i j l a l r i s i n g s ta r

Personal sacrifices needed to sustain balance during Covid-19 DOCTOR Priscilla Brijlal is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Den- training on patients. tistry and Head of Department of Oral Hygiene. She has exten- “The greatest challenge is the anxiety of being around people, sive expertise in the area of dental education, clinical practice patients and within a hospital setting where Covid-testing and and oral health promotion in South Africa. hospitalisation is in progress. Furthermore, the donning of perThe sudden shift to an online teaching environment was a huge sonal protective wear such as N95 masks with another surgical adjustment for her, like for so many others. “Facing the dawn of mask beneath, facial screens, head and foot gear, does not make an online-only work space was a significant shift for me. UWC is it easier. It is an incredibly challenging time for everyone in the a contact university and because of the clinical field I work in, it health sector. was a huge challenge making the shift; navigating the online “We work long clinical shifts and stand for all this time. Before space and being creative in the way we presented leaving the office, we have to change into our own lectures, assessments and attended meetings. clothing, which we again remove before enter“Although I am 20 years into lecturing, oning the house. Amidst all the commitments line preparation and teaching posed of home and work, death is looming many challenges as we transitioned over us in the workplace and in our from the traditional classroom families. We just have to support method we were accustomed to. each other to get by each day. I We had to learn fast and adapt draw strength from my family to the new changes instantaneand friends, while looking out ously. Furthermore, there was for those in need. no structure to the day. Work“A healthy work-life balance ing hours went into the night. was not much of a possibilIt was a challenge trying to ity over the last year – and get a system going at home women have had to make and it often led to exhaustion personal sacrifices to sustain and frustration.” any kind of balance. Like many of her colleagues, “I am at work every day at the Dr Brijlal believes that women Tygerberg Oral Health Cenhave been disproportionately tre, while my family work from affected by the pandemic. In the home. I still do the chores and initial months of the lockdown, cooking before I leave home. she worked from home, along with “I have had to cut corners to sustain the whole family and without a regular my sanity — cutting my prayer time, domestic worker to share the workload. drastically reduced my sleep time and “Women in general have household and often skipping meals and also my exercise childcare related responsibilities, in addition to time, just to keep house and up to date with workplace responsibilities. Apart from the daily rework. sponsibilities, the health of women is “I had to make peace with myself and more profoundly affected as they are slowly began to realise that whatever child-bearing, child-rearing and are fur- “I have had to cut corners to sustain my I am destined to do as a householder ther subjected to hormonal changes at sanity — cutting my prayer time, drasti- and a teacher, is my karma and my different life stages. cally reduced my sleep time and often prayer. My prayer is inherent in what I “In the absence of my helper, the day do to help the lives of others. skipping meals and also my exercise “My current goals are to ensure unstarted with household chores, making the breakfast, cleaning up and then go- time, just to keep house and up to date dergraduates and postgraduates coming online — either teaching, attending plete their studies in the minimum time, with work.” meetings or preparing online lectures. without having to experience major This was followed by preparation of challenges during this difficult period. the lunch meals and doing more household chores, going online These are more important than my own needs right now. again and then preparing for dinner. It was cleaning, cooking, eat- “I still have a desire to become an Associate Professor, however, ing and working — three times a day, for months.” the road is not easy and the avenues to facilitate this process Once the staff and students began returning to the faculty in a have been put on hold because of the overwhelming changes I phased approach, Dr Brijlal had to resume clinical teaching and currently encounter to get by each day.”


Faculty of Education D r K a r e n C o l l e t t t o p aC h i e v e r

Healthy work-life balance difficult to manage during Covid-19

W

HEN asked about how she has been managing over the a continuous challenge, particularly when it comes to the timepast year, Dr Karen Collett’s response is blunt and to the consuming work of online learning and virtual engagement. point: “I have not managed to create and sustain a “Finding the time to do the deep reading and thinking rehealthy work-life balance during this time, nor am I quired for academic work is increasingly a chalaware of any colleagues who have managed lenge.” to do this.” Dr Collett has a particular interest in Dr Collett is a Senior Lecturer in school teacher well-being, school leadership leadership and management in the development and the development Educational Studies Department of schools as thinking and learnof the University of the Western ing organisations. From 2016 to Cape. For the last 29 years, 2019, she was the South Afrishe has worked in the area can co-ordinator and co-initiof school and teacher develator of an Erasmus Plus partopment through NGOs and nership focused on teacher higher education institutions well-being and language in South Africa and Namibia. diversity, in collaboration “What helped sustain me with partners in Norway, during this difficult time Denmark and Ireland. were strong and support“I am currently researching ive relationships with colthe relationship between leagues and friends. These leadership in schools and relationships have helped to teacher well-being. I am inbuild such an important space terested in extending my refor care and attention, both at a search by investigating the personal and professional level. relationship between teacher Writing together with colleagues well-being and professional learnhas helped inspire me, and has kept ing communities in schools.” the energy and commitment towards Together with a colleague from the Edusubmitting articles for publication going. cation Faculty, and the UWC Writing Cen“The boundaries between home and work-life tre, she will be working on a participatory action for women in academia have become learning and research project linked to increasingly blurred, as the homespace “Being able to switch off and distance the integration of academic literacies is now also the workspace. Being able from work is a continuous challenge, in faculty courses and programmes. to switch off and distance from work is

particularly when it comes to the timeconsuming work of online learning and virtual engagement.”


Faculty Faculty of of Education Dentistry rs i si s cii lDllaa B i jilrails i N rg i s isnta g rs ta r DDrr NPo mri N

Personal sacrifices needed to sustain balance during Covid-19 DOCTOR Priscilla Brijlal is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Den- training on patients. tistry and Head of Department of Oral Hygiene. She has exten- “The greatest challenge is the anxiety of being around people, sive expertise in the area of dental education, clinical practice patients and within a hospital setting where Covid-testing and and oral health promotion in South Africa. hospitalisation is in progress. Furthermore, the donning of perThe sudden shift to an online teaching environment was a huge sonal protective wear such as N95 masks with another surgical adjustment for her, like for so many others. “Facing the dawn of mask beneath, facial screens, head and foot gear, does not make an online-only work space was a significant shift for me. UWC is it easier. It is an incredibly challenging time for everyone in the a contact university becausechallenged of the clinical I work in, itto health sector. The onset of theand pandemic Dr field Nosisi Dlamini are expected to juggle their workload and absorb additional was a huge the shift; navigating the online “We work domestic long clinical shifts stand time, for allincluding this time.childcare, Before rethink andchallenge transformmaking her teaching, learning and reduties at and the same space andstrategies. being creative in the presented leaving the office, have toAschange intothey our are ownafsearch She felt likeway shewe was being cleaning andwe cooking. a result, lectures, assessments and attended clothing, which we again remove before enter- in confronted with the need to createmeetings. a clear fected by the disproportionate reduction “Although I am and 20 years into lecturing, oning the Amidsttoallresearch the commitments line of vision an execution roadmap, timehouse. dedicated and other line preparation and teaching posed of home and work, death is looming as well as an urgent need to upskill academic demands.” many as we transitioned overYet, us Dr in the workplace and inherself our and challenges adapt to changing conditions, Dlamini has trained from the traditional classroom families. justlinings have intothe support and match new roles and activito seeWe silver current method each other to“I get by each day. I ties. we were accustomed to. situation. believe that despite We to learn fast and draw my family “Inhad 2020, I enrolled for aadapt Postthestrength Covid-19from challenges, the tograduate the new changes andpandemic friends, while looking out Diplomainstantanein Immeropened a goldmine ously. Furthermore, there for those in need. sive Technologies at the was Uniof academic and professional noversity structure to the day. Work“A healthy work-life balance of the Western Cape. development opportunities.” ingThrough hours went into the Inight. wasShe not much this course, have won of thea possibilemerging It amassed was a challenge trying to ity over the Award last year and in a wealth of knowlLecturer at –UWC get a system going at to home women to the make edge and adapted the June have 2020, had just as panand it often led to exhaustion personal to sustain demands of virtual instrucdemicsacrifices was wreaking havoc and frustration.” any–kind of balance. tion. My students have also which only goes to prove Like manyaccess of her to colleagues, “I am work every day atare thealgained a wealth herat point that there DrofBrijlal believes Tygerberg Oral Health Cenuseful digital that toolswomen in the ways positives to be found. have disproportionately tre, As while mymanaging family work formbeen of online collaboration far as herfrom workaffected by the pandemic. the home. still do the tools, live video sessionsIn and life I balance, shechores has aand few initial months of resource the lockdown, cooking before I leave home.to great digital learning develstrategies that she uses she worked from home, along with “I have had to cut corners to sustain opment.” effect. the family and without a include regular my “At sanity cutting my prayer time, Drwhole Dlamini’s responsibilities the — beginning of each academic domestic worker to share the workload. drastically reduced mykeep sleep time and curriculum design and renewal, exam year, I design and a digital daily “Women in general have household often skipping mealstrack and also exercise moderation, postgraduate research and suplanner to keep of mymy goals, priorichildcare related responsibilities, addition in to time,ties, justactivities to keepand house and up to date with pervision and much more. herininterests family commitments. I have workplace responsibilities. Apart the daily rework.also invested in equipment that supports my daily early literacy development, earlyfrom childhood edusponsibilities, health of women “I had work to make peace with myselfdisrupand cation and the virtual instruction in is activities to avoid more profoundly affected they are “At the beginning of each academic year, slowly tions began to realise that whatever language education, all as benefited during work hours. I also take child-bearing, and are fur- “I have had to cut corners to sustain my I am destined to do throughout as a householder greatly fromchild-rearing the new digital skills breaks the day I design and keep a digital daily planner to small ther is myand karma and my shesubjected acquired.to hormonal changes at sanity — cutting my prayer time, drasti- and a toteacher, re-energise recharge. This keep of my activities different stages. prayer.increases My prayerproductivity, is inherent in what I As shelife made the transition to virconcentracallytrack reduced mygoals, sleep priorities, time and often “Intual theinstruction, absence ofallmy helper, day do to help of others. around herthe she tion the andlives focus. I also avoid proand family commitments” skipping meals and also my exercise “My current started withincreased household chores, making goals When are tofaced ensure saw the need for womcrastination. with una big time, justdemands to keepwith houseproject and at upwork to date the and thenand go- professional dergraduates postgraduates com- I enbreakfast, to jugglecleaning multiple up academic or home, I divide it intoand smaller tasks. Whenever ingincreases online — in either teaching,responsibilities. attending plete their In studies in the minimum time, housework “For example,with homeam overwhelmed, I re-strategise. the constantly evolving acawork.” meetings or poses preparing lectures. without having to experience major schooling extraonline demands on women who were already demic terrain, I try to continuously innovate to stay upbeat with This was followed preparation of challenges during this difficult period. weighed down bybyacademic expectations. Female academics the rapidly-evolving academic environment.” the lunch meals and doing more household chores, going online These are more important than my own needs right now. again and then preparing for dinner. It was cleaning, cooking, eat- “I still have a desire to become an Associate Professor, however, ing and working — three times a day, for months.” the road is not easy and the avenues to facilitate this process Once the staff and students began returning to the faculty in a have been put on hold because of the overwhelming changes I phased approach, Dr Brijlal had to resume clinical teaching and currently encounter to get by each day.”

Pandemic opened ‘goldmine’ of professional development opportunities


Faculty of Economic Management Sciences P r o f e s s o r J u d i t h t e r b l a n c h e t o P ac h i e v e r

Communing with nature is non-negotiable for healthy work-life balance hasn’t always got it right this year. Professor Judith Terblanche has a PhD in the Philosophy of education, and is an Associate Pro“I do not think I have a healthy work-life balance at all. However, I kept to one rule, which was a fessor in the Department of Accounting, non-negotiable and a necessity for survivwhere she teaches the sAICA-accredital: that I spend one to two hours daily ed programmes. she is also a highly outside in nature with my dog, prefrespected Auditing lecturer, the erably hiking. The combination programme co-ordinator for the of nature, exercise and animal PGDA programme, and serves energy and curiosity serves as on the education and Transfora tonic to nourish and refresh mation Committee of IrBA. the mind, soul and body. Her areas of research are Lately, I decided to not accitizenship education, cess emails over the weekteaching for social justice, ends anymore – and that is ethical decision-making definitively also making a and responsible leadersignificant improvement in ship, with a specific focus freeing my mind for reflecon the Chartered Accounttive thought. I should have ant academic. done this ages ago.” “The effects of the pandemic one of the things Prof Teron a household depend enblanche is enjoying most is tirely on the complexity and a research project in the denegotiated roles within a parpartment that includes four colticular household.” leagues with little research expoWhat was her particular challenge? sure. The aim will be to determine “I really, really, really like to read and whether using other learning material, reflect on matters pertaining to my reborrowing from the fields of humanities and search interests. the arts, could assist in cultivating the required “All of the preparation for remote online teachsocial awareness in students who will in future be leading took significantly longer than traditional face-to-face ers in business – thus combining teaching. In combination with the “I kept to one rule, which was a technical skills with the teaching onslaught of virtual meetings of values. that were arranged and the dinon-negotiable and a necessity for survival: Ultimately, she knows that it is vide between the personal and that I spend one to two hours daily outside extremely challenging to find a the work environment that was in nature with my dog, preferably hiking.” balance between work responblurred out, there was just not sibilities, self-care, research proenough time in a day.” she has learned that one needs to make a choice between jects, care and responsibilities towards others, and personal adpersonal well-being and research interests, and admits that she ministrative and household tasks.


Faculty of Economic Management Sciences D r Fa z ly n P e t e r s e n r i s i n g s ta r

Using technology effectively to build a better work and life balance As a senior lecturer at UWC, Dr Fazlyn Petersen knows that she was able to come up with many successful ways of crewomen at university are expected to play many ating more time and managing the increased workroles at the same time – multi-tasking as acaload. demics, researchers, mentors, wives and “In order to create more structured workmothers. ing hours and time, I tried schedul“As mothers and academics, it ing hours to check emails and seemed only natural that we deal with student queries. I crewould take over the role of ated lessons on our electronic teacher to our children during learning management system the lockdown.” Of course, this with expectations and sent was in addition to the stuout reminders for students dents she was in charge of at the start of every week. I professionally, as well. On made work available to stutop of these challenges dents before the expected was added a loss of childdate, so that they had more care and domestic services time to prepare. lessons during the pandemic. contained videos to explain “simply put, caring about work and this assisted a litour students’ success meant tle with the number of quespending many more hours ries. I also learnt to delegate working than ever before. I certain administrative tasks to teach a large class of more than colleagues and our teaching as300 students. Many students exsistant.” pected their lecturers to be availHer long-term professional goal able after hours to assist them with is to become an Associate Profeswork. I felt like my workload had tripled sor, and she is currently working on in 2020. Changing to online learning also creating more inclusive online enviblurred the boundaries between work and ofronments in education and health by usfice time.” ing data-free options. “Many people are currently Her areas of academic speciality include risk, quality, project and excluded, due to the digital divide and significant inequaliknowledge management; as well as ties in south Africa,” she explains. “I felt like my workload had tripled business analysis and testing. she is “I’m hoping that my work will a certified project manager and tester, change this by moving from the in 2020. Changing to online learning and has invaluable experience in sevexclusionary fourth industrial also blurred the boundaries eral industries such as financial serrevolution (4IR) towards the fifth between work and office time.” vices, retail and auditing. industrial revolution (5IR) that will With all of that on her plate, time manfocus on user needs, innovation agement became crucial to navigating the pandemic. purpose and inclusivity.”


Faculty of Law P r o f e s s o r U s A N G A s s i m t o P Ac h i e v e r

Maintaining productivity is possible with family assistance Professor Usang Assim is an Associate Professor of Law at she freely admits that her productivity took a hit during this time UWC. Her expertise in the area of children’s rights in Africa has and, as a result, affected her mental health and overall well-beseen her gain a prominent voice on the continent, and ing. But she never gave up and found useful solutions. she has written extensively about the circum“It helped for the whole family, including the chilstances children face – from Nigeria and the dren, to acknowledge that we were in it toDrC to south Africa and more. gether and to be committed to making As a female academic and a mother, things work for us all as a unit.” the pandemic took a toll on her Now things are slowly returning to both physically and mentally. normal, as evidenced by the fact she noticed quickly how living that she is successfully juggling through a pandemic placed multiple projects at work again. a greater burden on women for example, she is working than men. “Women bear the on her normal teaching load, heaviest share of responsias well as on an advanced bilities within the domestic short course of Children’s space, including ‘house rights in Africa, which the work’ and raising of chilDullah omar Institute (UWC) dren. hosts annually, in partner“The convergence of both ship with the Centre for Huthe private space and work man rights and the Centre space made it practically imfor Child Law at the Univerpossible to set boundaries.” sity of Pretoria. These insights came from diffi“It is a theoretical and practicult first-hand experience. cal course that usually brings for at least six months of the first together about 40 participants year of the pandemic, Prof Assim had engaging with children’s rights charge over two school-aged children and welfare concerns across the (8 and 11 years old). “It was very challengcontinent. The 2021 edition has been ing juggling my own work with oversight over scheduled for June and we are organising the demands of the children’s school work, given a hybrid model that combines both physical and the home-schooling scenario neonline learning.” cessitated by the pandemic. While But Prof Assim is determined to “It helped for the whole family, including this juggling is an art that many not take anything for granted. women/parents have been practis- the children, to acknowledge that we were in The looming third wave of the ing for several years and decades it together and to be committed to making pandemic makes any kind of plannow, being thrust into the lockdown ning difficult and might force some things work for us all as a unit.” as a result of the pandemic, without changes to the way she works, prior expectations or plans in place, but the experience from 2020 has required significant shifts – emotionally, mentally, psychologically given her the resilience to find a way through it, if it happens and otherwise; and it took a long while to get the shifts right.” again.


Faculty of Law P r o f e s s o r s u e - M a r I V I l j o e n r I s I n g s ta r

Prioritising communication is effective in balancing home and work As a specialist in Property Law, Professor sue-Mari Viljoen is pecially caretakers (of children, elderly persons and persons who require forms of assistance) were affected in a more deeply engaged in the links between housing law, land profound manner than men, simply because reform and property law in south Africa. Her their care-taking duties could not be shared work is focused on both doctrinal issues by others; they were forced to undertake as well as more theoretical concerns such responsibilities themselves. she is grappling with as she finalises “Women in academia who are carea book, co-authored with Prof G takers were disproportionately Muller, titled Property in Housing, affected, because they had to which will be published by Juta. undertake certain additional At the same time, she is also responsibilities such as eduworking on several presencating their children.” tations that deal with the However, she is quick to Expropriation Bill of 2020 acknowledge that many and the expropriation of unmen suffered under an inderutilised land at a cost of creased burden, too. “This nil rand. does not mean that a large she credits her family for percentage of men workhelping her manage the ing in academia were not workload during the panaffected.” demic. “I have a good supThinking back on the biggest port structure, which allows challenges she experienced quality time to work and mainduring 2020, Prof Viljoen notes tain some balance. I prioritised that her main obstacle was actime with my family and I tried cessing printed materials. “I also to work as effectively as possible. struggled to work efficiently from Having young children often meant working late or early hours of the mornhome, while having to take care of my children. I managed to access books directing. Good communication among family ly from the publishers, and I also members is vital to maintain effeccalled on peers to assist where tive working hours.” “I have a good support structure, necessary. I found assistance from But, of course, she is keenly aware which allows quality time to work a caretaker to look after my chilthat the burden of coping falls disproportionately on women in our dren during parts of the day, espeand maintain some balance.” cially in the mornings.” society. “I think that women, but es-


Faculty of Natural Sciences P r o f e s s o r D e l i a M a r s h a l l t o P ac h i e v e r

HOD appointment three days into lockdown was ‘baptism of fire’ Professor Delia Marshall’s research interests lie in under- one of the major challenges was how Covid-19 amplified the algraduate physics education and methods of enabling ready existing inequalities in higher education. “Many lecturers, it seems to me, have expestudents to access the disciplinary knowledge and practices of physics. she is passionrienced similar distress witnessing their students falling behind and feeling soate about the public good purposes of cially isolated, yet being unable to higher education, and its impact on adequately connect with them or students’ life trajectories, and reprovide support. This is somecently co-authored a book titled Going to University: The influthing we perhaps need to think ence of higher education on about as an institution, if we want to mitigate the long-term the lives of young south Africans, which explored some effects.” Personally, she tried to set of these themes. up boundaries, deliberately “It is not just female academics who have been demarcating non-work time affected by the pandemic. and unplugging from emails and screens. she also tried Many of our female stuto make time for restoradents have also struggled tive activities, like planning to study from home, with walks or runs with friends, or the demands of household an early morning swim or surf. chores and childcare.” “But I certainly don’t think I got on a personal level, Prof Marthe work-life balance right a lot shall has lived very close to the of the time.” frontlines of this pandemic. “My Alongside the intensity of adapting husband is a healthcare worker to a new way of working, there were who was working closely with Covid patients on a daily basis, so there was an also moments of real joy in 2020. “I found ever-present sense of dread and vulnerabilmyself enjoying the less hurried pace of life that lockdown brought, finding pleasure in the simity in our household.” 2020 was a whirlwind for her: she ple aspects of daily life – with more “I found myself enjoying the less hurried family time together, early morning started a new job as Head of the Department of Physics & Astronopace of life that lockdown brought, finding coffee in my garden, or pausing at my just three days into the Covid my home desk to watch the birds national lockdown. “It really was a pleasure in the simple aspects of daily life …” outside my window.” Looking ahead, Prof Marshall is baptism of fire. Leading my department’s sudden shift to online learning was challenging, and I was excited about a new “science for Development” Honours modextremely grateful for the deep sense of collegiality in my de- ule being set up in the department, led by colleague Carolina partment. Colleagues stepped up to help each other master the odman, which will develop physics students’ ability to apply their technical and educational design aspects of online teaching, and scientific, mathematical, computational and data skills to broader sustainable development contexts. shared ideas and resources.”


Faculty of Natural Sciences D R A n u s h A R A j k A R A n R i s i n g s tA R

Dealing with anger and isolation during the lockdown Doctor rajkaran was trained in the Department of Botany at “After a while the term ‘the new normal’ drove me to different levNelson Mandela University, and specialised in the els of anger and resentment, just because I was feeling ecology and functioning of mangrove forests, an inability to accept the situation.” which are the rarest forest type in South AfAlthough she admits to not maintaining a rica. these are significantly threatened work-life balance, she did find strategies globally, and in particular by microthat helped her to cope. “I found solplastics.” ace in the little things – flowering With so much of her work taking plants, visiting sunbirds, dogs and place outdoors, the lockdown cats staring out their windows. proved to be difficult as she I tried to find things that kept was forced to stay indoors me positive and engaged. and grapple with isolation. Gardening, taking pictures “As a single woman, my exof my plants and posting perience of lockdown and to Instagram were often a covid-19 brought about much-needed source of challenges of isolation engagement and contact which lead to loneliness, with the outside. trying to as well as a struggle to reexercise, feeling my heart main productive and crearate increase and sweattive. these feelings were ing allowed me to feel like compounded by the constant something healthy was being worry about family, colleagues, achieved. Keeping track of stuundergraduate and postgradudents, engaging with colleagues ate students, and was driven by via meetings and WhatsApp also concern for their physical and menhelped keep the mind busy.” tal health, the inability to provide help, It was a huge moment for her to get and the need to maintain some sense of back out into nature. normality for all concerned.” “the joy of being in nature returned in abunShe was prone to constant worrying and said that dance and we saw old field sites with new eyes sometimes the worrying led her to and appreciation. Just being able arguments with family who were to drive the research rubber duck “As a single woman, my experience of not obeying to lockdown regulabrought back the feeling of the ‘old lockdown and Covid-19 brought about tions. “It definitely kept me awake normal’.” at night – or perhaps that was the challenges of isolation leading to loneliness, During the next three to five years, sound of emails arriving 24 hours her teams’ research on the impact as well as a struggle to remain productive a day.” of microplastics in estuaries and and creative.” Although academics are used to on ecosystem services will grow working beyond office hours, she in leaps and bounds. “In the next often found her day starting late at night, hitting higher levels of 18 months, we will continue to develop our microplastics lab, productivity around midnight, and also finding that emails to col- furnishing it with much-needed equipment that will allow us to leagues were being replied to in the late hours, as they too were provide in depth knowledge on the source, type and end point awake.” of microplastics in mangrove, salt marsh and seagrass habitats.”


Excellent Leadership Hanlie Wessels MeMber of CounCil

Remote working during a pandemic can pose challenges HANLIE Wessels is a Member of Council on UWC’s board. She is that remote working and distributed teams were the norm. This leading the AdHoc committee to determine the feasiis similar to some part of the lockdown work situation, bility of the establishment of the Infrastructure which we all needed to get used to during the Governance Committee for the UWC Counpandemic. “The challenges I faced when cil. Wessels boasts an impressive CV working remotely were usually about and has over a decade of experience people and teams. How to keep the in Executive Leadership. connection, pacing your own work “I am curious and love learnhours and safeguarding your ing and my career therefore health and emotional wellbeing stretches across almost all at the same time.” possible functions in differWessels was faced with a dient organisations and multimension of challenges and ple industries. The various uncertainties when her husroles reflect my enjoyment band started a new job in at working in diverse enviNorth Africa last year durronments and learning from ing the pandemic. She had different perspectives. The to figure out things such as best result comes from such how travel works, packing environments.” one’s own food for travel, Wessels learnt that it is imwaiting for the Covid-19 test portant to embrace a disrupresults in the host country, tion such as the Covid-19 panand potential isolation in a govdemic, even if it requires some ernment facility. time to get used to. “This present“Since having children and being ed an opportunity to discover how a working mom, I have accepted that the new normal can reward us with work-life is never going to be perfectly e.g. less commuting time, a quick hug balanced, and the balance on one day will on your way to grab coffee before the next never be the same as the next. However, if I meeting, and perhaps a reality check listen to, and stay in touch with those for those in your personal life of what around me who I care about, and with “Since having children and being a your workday demands from you.” myself, I can tweak and adjust to ensure working mom, I have accepted that that the relative balance is attainable.” Her international experience ensured

work-life is never going to be in a perfect balance, and the balance on one day will never be the same as the next.”


Excellent Leadership Outstanding Academic Leadership Dr r N N ii ta ta L L aw aw t to oN N -- M M ii s sr ra a U Uw wC C r re eg g ii s st tr ra ar r D

Gender inequalities in society deepened by pandemic Although she she fulfills fulfills the the vital vital role role of of Registrar Registrar At the the same same time, time, there there were were opportunities opportunities ifif you Although At you at uWC, Dr Nita lawton-Misra is actually a only knew where to look. “the pandemic pandemic and and at uWC, Dr Nita lawton-Misra is actually a only knew where to look. “the psychologist by by training, training, with with a a particuparticuensuing lockdown lockdown provided provided many many opoppsychologist ensuing lar interest in the field of disability. her portunities – to think and function diflar interest in the field of disability. her portunities – to think and function difprevious experience in the Regisferently, to embrace change, to be previous experience in the Regisferently, to embrace change, to be trar’s office of another university agile, to appreciate things that trar’s office of another university agile, to appreciate things that II provided her her with with an an opportunity opportunity often took took for for granted, granted, to to reasreasprovided often to participate in all functions sess my priorities, to apprecito participate in all functions sess my priorities, to appreciand responsibilities responsibilities in in the the ate family, family, friends friends and and neighneighand ate Registrar’s domain. domain. “I “I instantinstantbours, and and to to realise realise that that Registrar’s bours, ly understood the need for one’s health matters above ly understood the need for one’s health matters above accountability, integrity integrity and and everything else.” else.” accountability, everything transparency during this her greatest professional transparency during this her greatest professional time, as governance bechallenge was setting time, as governance bechallenge was setting came my core responsibilboundaries – she found came my core responsibilboundaries – she found ity. My other key focus area that she was expected to ity. My other key focus area that she was expected to was academic academic administraadministrabe available available 24 24 hours hours a a day day was be tion, which which involves involves the the full full with no no clear clear distinction distinction bebetion, with life-cycle of a student at unitween work and personal life-cycle of a student at unitween work and personal versity.” spaces. “After “After a a while, while, it it bebeversity.” spaces. Reflecting back on the last yearcame less a case of ‘working Reflecting back on the last yearcame less a case of ‘working and-a-half, she she says says that that “the “the from home’ home’ and and more more a a case case of of and-a-half, from pandemic has deepened gender ‘living at work’,’’ she notes with a pandemic has deepened gender ‘living at work’,’’ she notes with a inequalities, and the academic life of laugh. inequalities, and the academic life of laugh. female academics academics has has changed changed in in terms terms But her her practices practices of of daily daily yoga yoga and and medmedfemale But of academic productivity. itation, not to mention the occasional Netfof academic productivity. itation, not to mention the occasional Netf“time and and again, again, we we hear hear from from female female academacademlix binge binge got got her her through through the the worst worst of of the the isolaisola“time lix ics that that the the pandemic pandemic forced forced women women to to play play different different tion. “Although “Although the the working working hours hours became became somewhat somewhat ics tion. roles and assume greater domestic blurred and boundaries seemed roles and assume greater domestic blurred and boundaries seemed “Although the the working working hours hours became became responsibilities, particularly particularly in in patripatrito have have disappeared, disappeared, the the time time II set set “Although responsibilities, to archal households. aside for reflection and relaxation somewhat blurred and boundaries archal households. aside for reflection and relaxation somewhat blurred and boundaries “Child-caring, caring caring for for elderly elderly gave me me the the strength strength and and fortitude fortitude “Child-caring, gave seemed to have disappeared, the time seemed to have disappeared, the time parents and other family members, to persevere.” parents and other family members, persevere.” set aside aside for for reflection reflection and and relaxation relaxation gave gave to domestic chores chores and and homeschoolhomeschool- II set In the the future, future, she she plans plans to to fulfil fulfil a a domestic In ing were added to their regular long-held goal of training in palliame the strength and fortitude to persevere.” ing were added to their regular goal of training in palliame the strength and fortitude to persevere.” long-held professional roles. roles. Many Many women women tive care/counselling, care/counselling, and and working working professional tive found it it increasingly increasingly difficult difficult to to balance balance their their personal personal and and propro- in in that that field field on on a a voluntary voluntary basis basis as as a a way way of of giving giving back back to to the the found fessional responsibilities.” community and expanding her skill set. fessional responsibilities.” community and expanding her skill set.