Mantombi Ngoloyi:
"We want to change the representation of the female scientist"

My name is Mantombi Ngoloyi. I am South African. And I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Paul-Sabatier in Toulouse, France.

Why did you choose to go in France for your PhD?

It was two reasons : personal but also academic reason. Personal in the sense that I always had this dream of traveling, and France was always my destination of choice. So I was very lucky when I stumbled upon this project. And also for academic reason, because I was interested in this specific project and also in the team I’m working with, which is the Kromdraai Research Project Team. And we are currently working in the « Cradle of Humankind » at the Kromdraai fossil site.

What is your plan after your PhD?

My plan is to come back in South Africa or get an opportunity to always work in a project that is based in South Africa, so constantly contribute to the scientific community in South Africa. But I’m also very passionate about academic relations between South African universities and international universities so if there is a way to integrate that, somehow, that’s definitely what I’m interested in. But I’m very well aware of the issue of students not coming back to their home countries and also thinking about solutions toward that.

About this issue, you founded the organisation Black Women in Science: what is it doing?

What we really want to do as Black Women in Science is to change the representation of the female scientist out there. Not box her in, “this is what a scientist is”, because yes, there is this constant image that we see of what a scientist should look like and it is a male dominated field, as well. It’s a male dominated field and especially a white male dominated field. So what we are trying to do is to look at why are black woman not continuing in this field. Is there a lack of interest? If not, what are the pertinent issues, how do you deal with those? But then creating this new image of holistic woman in science.