HERI's Deputy Director Dr Robyn Pickering has been awarded funding to make space for more women's voices to be heard in the palaeosciences. As part of UCT Vice Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng's Advancing Womxn initiative, she’s been awarded the grant: For womxn by womxn: conducting research in a field in which womxn are in short supply.
Dr Pickering said the funds would be used to strengthen HERI's commitment to driving inclusive, transformative research into human origins in Africa. "HERI works to bring all voices into the conversation around human origins. With this award, we strengthen our mission and focus on welcoming more young, black women and trans students into the palaeosciences," she said.
Dr Pickering said HERI would do this through a number of initiatives. Among these are the sponsorship of two PhD fellowships and one postdoc fellowship. HERI also plans to run field camp training for young women and trans students to gain experience and confidence working in the field.
Announcing the Advancing Womxn initiative on National Women’s Day in August 2018, Phakeng said that while they would target human capital development, the projects would “help us rethink our views of gender in South Africa and give us new insights into ourselves and others in different communities”.
One year later, on the 2019 International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Phakeng announced Dr Pickering among the winners. In total, five grants were awarded to female researchers including Dr Katye Altieri, Professor Floretta Boonzaier and Professor Janet Hapgood and Professor Patricia Kooyman.