For a long time, careers in Science, Technology and Engineering were dominated by men. However, there are more and more women entering this industry and making a huge difference. Professor Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya is one of them.

Who is Prof. Phaswana-Mafuya?

Professor Nancy Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya is an epidemiologist (a scientist who studies illnesses within groups of people) and newly appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research And Innovation At The University of the North West. Prof. Phaswana-Mafuya is from Botlokwa in Limpopo. She’s one of seven children, raised by self-employed, semi-illiterate parents who she described as hard working and made sure she and her siblings had everything they needed.

The journey

Her career path wasn’t an easy one. Prof. Phaswana-Mafuya always knew that she wanted to do something in science, but she’d always hoped she’d end up in the medical field. Due to her eagerness to succeed and the desperation to want to help her family, she ventured into Social Work, being one of the top students at her university.

The opportunities

Prof. Phaswana-Mafuya always knew that hard work pays off. Being one of the top students in her university allowed her the opportunity to go to the UK after completing her Social Work degree. There, she was able to broaden her horizons. She obtained her Research Masters in Gerontology Research, a Post-graduate Diploma and Masters of Science in Epidemiology, and later a PhD in Injury Prevention at only 29 years old.

The goal

Prof. Phaswana-Mafuya’s goal is to promote excellence in scholarship, research and innovation. She understands that there’s a need for young people in science and because of that, she aims to expose more young people to the science world.

I’d like to be remembered as a selfless, generous woman who sacrificed all I had for the betterment of my society.”

Being female shouldn’t determine which career you venture into. As long as you’re determined and hardworking, there isn’t a single thing you can’t achieve. We hope Prof. Phaswana-Mafuya’s story has inspired you to reach for your dreams!

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