I am a Zulu woman. If I were married, my in-laws would probably struggle to understand that I am unable to attend “umembeso” (one of the many stages and rituals in a Zulu wedding) because I have a thesis to write-up.
Nine years into my research and academic career, one of the most common questions I hear from family and friends is, “uzoqedanini ukufunda?” (“Will she ever finish studying?”)
They’re not the only ones who struggle to understand what it is that I do. My experience is that most black women “fall into” research and academia, rather than deliberately choosing it as a career direction from the start. That would explain why black women undergraduates often ask me “What is research?” and “Is reading all you do?”
The United Nations marks February 11 each year as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This is an important occasion – but, based on the kinds of questions I receive almost daily, I’d suggest that retention rather than participation should be the focus of each February 11 and related initiatives.
Read the full article HERE.