4 Inspirational Female Academics

August 7th, 2015 by Pearson

Nowadays it’s easy to forget what a privilege it is to study. When the daily grind of lectures, assignments and exams get you down, it’s helpful to see how all that hard work can pay off.

Some women have used their time at university to do more that please mom and dad; they’ve worked hard to forge a foundation from which to change the world. Let’s take a look at some beautifully inspirational ladies who used their tertiary education as a springboard to great things:

1. Arundathi Roy
Born in Meghalaya, India, in 1961, this remarkable author and human-rights spokesperson uses her words to make people think about difficult issues. She studied Architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi – an interesting choice that was merely a stepping stone to her real passion: politics.

Claim to fame: Roy won the Man Booker Prize in 1997, for her very first (mildly autographical) novel, The God of Small Things. If you’re a reader, it might just change your life.

2. Lindiwe Mazibuko
Born in 1980 in Swaziland, Lindiwe is one South Africa’s youngest parliamentarians. She is truly accomplished in the academic sector, and has a host of qualifications under her belt. These include a Bachelor of Music (University of KwaZulu-Natal); a BA in French, Classics, Media & Writing, and a BA Honours in Political Communication (both from UCT).

Claim to fame: Mazibuko displayed an interesting knack for controversy when she quit as the DA parliamentary Leader, opting instead for a year of study at Harvard University.

3. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
This impressive character goes down in history as Africa’s very first elected female head of state. She was born in Liberia in 1938, and has maintained her elected presidential seat since 2005. Sirleaf has an Associate Degree in Accounting (Madison Business College, Wisconsin) and a Masters in Public Administration from the John F Kennedy School of Government.

Claim to fame: Aside from her general female awesomeness in a male-dominated sector, Sirleaf shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with two other ladies. The awardees were recognised for their non-violent approach to the safety of women, and women’s rights.

4. Mamphela Ramphele
This South African figure, born in 1947, is known largely for her infamous affair with Steve Biko. However, she’s an incredibly accomplished woman who earned a medical degree in South Africa, at a time when women of colour were not helped to achieve their dreams. Ramphele eventually qualified as a doctor in 1972, from the University of the North.

Claim to fame: Apart from having two children with anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, Mamphela is the Managing Director of ANC opposition party, Agang.

From JK Rowling to Maya Angelou, women who spent time studying at university have gone on to do spectacular things. Consider your tertiary studies as the first grown-up steps you take towards your marvellous career. What do you hope to accomplish?