Diversity is the mix, but inclusion makes the mix work

31 March 2022

The first University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP) sponsored Women Leaders in Conversation, kicked off on a high note at the CSIR late in February. It brought together the current delegates of the 2022 TUT Women Leaders Programme and the alumna of the programme since 2019, when the University launched the programme.  

Aimed at equipping women to increase their impact, agency and creating everlasting personal and professional change, the programme is designed to support women to optimally contribute to TUT’s vision of finding authentic and enduring solutions to our communities’ problems.  

Dr Tessie Herbst, project leader for Academic Leadership Development in the Office of the DVC Teaching, Learning and Technology explained that, by approaching leadership as a reflective practice, the Women Leaders programme is structured around three themes: self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-mastery. It aims to be a catalyst for women’s agency and urgency to create and drive a more inclusive culture within the University.

Dr Tessie, who introduced the Women Leaders in Conversation event , described how the brain(and heart )storm conversations can assist in taking the learning during the programme forward, build a strong community of women leaders and creating a more inclusive culture in the university for the benefit for both the university and women in general. 

“Sisterhood is an old concept and may sound terribly cliché. But it holds a universal truth: there is incredible value when women come together as a collective, creating a social, moral, and emotional connection. A sisterhood who truly understands the unique challenges we face and can offer encouragement, advice and support that men simply can’t.  Therefore, the saying that :"Behind every successful woman, there is a community of other successful women who have her back," remains true, she explained.

Motivational speaker, Yolandi Smit, opened the programme by sharing her journey of becoming, during an inspiring, but emotional presentation of her years growing up, lacking a motherly role model and mostly having to take care of herself.

“My mammatjie had so much to offer the world,  but she never knew it. She never knew how to unlock her potential and how to channel her love for people. I have learned through a journey of healing and dealing with my past, that the people you surround yourself with, are quite often who you will become,” she told delegates. 

Having put all her own learning and experiences in a learning planner and reflection journal, each Women Leaders programme delegate received a unique TUT version of the journal titled BECOMING.  Based on the Bullet Journal Method, the journal is designed to help every delegate to plan and record her journey of transformation, unlock her full potential, learn to fight for herself, her dreams and desires and become the leader she was destined to be.

Providing more information on the break-away sessions and emphasising the importance of honest conversations about gender in the workplace, gender identity and sisterhood,  the empowerment of women and the role of women in the future of work, Dr Tessie also introduced the four conversation streams and the facilitators for each. 

  • Gender in the workplace - Dr Nalini Moodley-Diar, Executive Dean Faculty of Arts and Design; Chairperson TUT Women in Leadership Forum.
  • The future of work: the role of women – Prof Khumbulani Mpofu, Professor and Gibela Research Chair; WoLF male champion for change.
  • Empowerment of women – Prof Venessa Naidoo, Tshwane School of Business and Society.
  • Gender identity and sisterhood – Prof Polly Mashigo, Ga-Rankuwa Campus Rector discussed Gender Identity with Kelebogile Ramokgopa from the Faculty of Management Sciences facilitating the conversation on Sisterhood.

During these sessions, the 81  delegates discussed important workplace issues related to these topics. At the end of the day, the four conversation leaders provided feedback on their deliberations to Prof Ben van Wyk, DVC: Teaching, Learning and Technology and Dr Caroline Selepe. After carefully listening to the delegates’ ideas and suggestions, Prof van Wyk and Dr Caroline also shared their more strategic perspectives and wisdom with the group.


For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711 Email: tshisikhawerpt@tut.ac.za