4 September 2023

On August 17, 2023, Professor Heidi Prozesky delivered a presentation at the annual Women in Physics event, which was hosted by the Physics Postgraduate Student Committee of Stellenbosch University. The presentation delved into gender disparities in the publication output of South African academics spanning the past two decades, particularly focussing on the comparison between the field of physics and national trends. Professor Prozesky’s findings revealed that publication in physics closely aligns with national statistics in two key aspects: the discrepancy between female output and the representation of females at universities, as well as the contrast in research productivity between female and male academics. Notably, in the field of physics, both female publication output and research capacity lag behind national figures by approximately 20%.

The presentation sparked engaging discussions regarding the influence of funding and gender stereotypes. Moreover, it supplied an empirical lens that complemented the personal narratives shared during the event by two remarkable women in physics: Dr. Daphney Bucher, a researcher at iThemba labs, and Nancy Payne, a PhD student within SU’s Physics Department.