Women In Physics



Firstly it is important to stimulate an interest in physics amongst girls and women. This should be followed by actions to attract girls to physics that should be addressed at several stages. Girls at primary and secondary school level can be encouraged to choose science as a subject through outreach programs specifically aimed at females. In this way it would be possible for them to follow science related careers, including physics, at a later stage. Women already in the field of physics should be retained and motivated to further their studies in this field. This is of importance as it appears that many women leave the field of physics after obtaining their first degree.


Balancing career and family life is particularly difficult for women as society place more pressure on them as far as family commitments are concerned. Skills transfer and mentoring is required in order to assist women in this regard. Promoting networking and research collaborations amongst female physicists in South Africa should also contribute to supporting women in physics related careers. 

Emphasis should also be on helping women prepare for a successful physics careers, this must also include support to obtain higher positions in institutional structure for women physicists.


A major problem is breaking stereotypes, not just in society in general but also within institutions. 

Research in other countries have shown that it is more difficult for women to obtain good ratings and have equal access to funding than their male counterparts. 

Therefore the aim is improving access and eligibility for funding for women. Furthermore it is required to improve the institutional structure and climate for women in physics.


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Chairperson: Dr. Katekani Shingange

Dr. Katekani Shingange hails from Gavaza village, Limpopo. She obtained a PhD in Physics from the University of the Free State in 2020. Her research focuses on surface science, particularly powders and thin films of optoelectronic semiconducting metal oxides applied to gas sensing technology.  Leveraging her expertise, Dr. Shingange actively engages in science communication workshops, mentors and supervises postgraduate students and junior researchers. She is passionate about attracting future generations to science and participates in initiatives like job shadowing for high school learners. Her dedication to knowledge transfer and skill development has positioned her as a leading figure in her field.

Dr. Shingange serves as the chairperson of Women in Physics in South Africa (WiPiSA), championing the cause of women in physics and advocating for increased female participation in physics-related careers. Her commitment to empowering women in STEM is further highlighted by her involvement in various activities aimed at attracting and nurturing female talent in the field. In 2023, Dr. Shingange was recognized as one of the 200 Mail&Guardian Young South Africans in the Technology and Innovation category, solidifying her position as a trailblazer in physics. She also had the prestigious opportunity to attend the Lindau Laureates Meeting in 2019, dedicated to Physics, an event that brings together young scientists across the globe with Nobel laureates. This experience showcases her international standing and contributions to the field.

Outside of physics research, Dr. Shingange enjoys exploring hiking trails and moments of solitude.


Executive Secretary: Dr. Joyful Mdhluli

Dr. Joyful Elma Mdhluli is a physicist with a passion for both research and fostering a more inclusive scientific community. In 2023, she earned her PhD in Particle Physics from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), contributing to their innovative Flagship projects. These projects explore the potential of astronomy to improve society.

Beyond research, Dr. Mdhluli is a strong advocate for women in physics. She serves as the Executive Secretary of Women in Physics in South Africa (WiPiSA), a forum under the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP). Through WiPiSA, she champions initiatives that promote greater representation and opportunities for women in the field. Her dedication extends to science communication. Dr. Mdhluli serves as an Editor for the Southern African Region for the African Physics Newsletter, ensuring wider dissemination of scientific advancements. She has also been featured as the sub-editor of the Science Stars Magazine.

Dr. Mdhluli’s commitment goes beyond academia. She actively participates in outreach programs, fostering a deeper connection between science and the community. In her personal life, Dr. Mdhluli embodies the power of positivity. She encourages everyone to embrace joy and share smiles – a philosophy that resonates with her belief that life is precious and meant to be enjoyed.

Student Volunteer: Tebogo Ledwaba

Tebogo Ledwaba is a full-time physics PhD student at Stellenbosch University. Her current work focuses on using several X-ray imaging modalities to detect defects in laser powder bed fusion manufactured alloys. Tebogo also uses artificial intelligence to develop segmentation models for a range of x-ray images. In addition to her academic pursuits, she has been serving as a student assistant at WiPiSA since 2022. Tebogo finds joy in watching football, with Liverpool FC being her favorite team. She also has a deep appreciation for poetry and finds solace in nature.