Sponsored by the South African Institute of Physics, the Department of Astronomy hosted its first ever 'Women in Physics in South Africa' (WiPiSA) lunch. Students in Astrophysics from undergrads through to PhD, postdoctoral fellows and female faculty turned out in great numbers - 36 women could make it, even though not quite all at the same time!
We were treated to an excellent guest speech by Dr Carolina Ödman-Govender who provided insights into life for physical scientists outside of academia. This is something that is often neglected in academia since faculty members are not fully aware of the opportunities that exist to scientists outside of pure research careers and therefore it is often difficult for students to find out about them.
The feedback from the students who attended was that these insights were very valuable as they weigh up their futures. There was also discussion of work/life balance and the importance of mentors. A highlight of the lunch was the award to Dr Amanda Weltman of the 2013 Jubilee Silver medal by Prof Kraan-Korteweg on behalf of the SAIP.
As a department we were very encouraged by the success of the lunch and the interaction at all levels and plan on this becoming an annual event.