AHRI Faculty Member Dr Emily Wong has been selected as an ‘InspiringFifty South Africa 2020’ winner, for being an inspiration and role model to girls and young women in science.

InspiringFifty is a global initiative established to spotlight incredible women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It aims to increase diversity in these fields by making female role models working in STEM more visible, and to emphasise that these are careers in which women can and do thrive – even against unfavourable odds.

“It is an honour to be included in this inspiring circle of women committed to changing science, tech and gender in South Africa,” said Dr Wong, an Infectious Disease physician-scientist whose work focuses on trying to understand the impact of HIV infection on TB pathogenesis, immunity and epidemiology.

In June of this year, Dr Wong and AHRI PhD student Maphe Mthembu led a community and public engagement project on gender equity in science which aimed to re-frame problematic narratives that contribute to gender inequity by re-imagining African scientists as superheroes, united in the fight for gender equity in science. “Our work on this project made it clear to us that women are underrepresented in scientific leadership roles and that scientific networking is usually centred on male scientists and their work,” said Dr Wong. Initiatives like InspiringFifty allow women in science to be recognised for their achievements and contributions, and creates networks that intentionally aim to connect women in science.

Being selected as a winner of the InspiringFifty will give Wong an opportunity to connect with and work alongside innovative women involved in STEM in South Africa. Through such networks, they will be able to support each other’s work, celebrate one another and promote visibility of their achievements.

“I am excited to connect with some of the other winners and see if there are ways we can find synergies between our work, so that we can support one another and inspire girls and young women to do the same,” added Wong.