South Africa is a long way from having equal rights and opportunities for both men and women, but when it comes to the science world, Nomvelo Shandu and more women are taking up that space and closing in on the gap.
“Being a female hydrologist in a male dominated field is very challenging, as is the case in any other career. You have to prove that you are just as knowledgeable, well rounded and practical as any other male hydrologist. But trust me, it is possible for women to make a name for themselves and that is evident by the fact that there is a growing number of female hydrologists.”
Growing up in KwaDukuza, the 26-year-old that double majored in Science (Hydrology and Microbiology) did not know that she would become a hydrologist but considering her love for science, it was a no-brainer. “Growing up, I was always an inquisitive person, and I would question how and why things function this way. I then learned about hydrology when I was 16 years old at a career guidance expo.”
As much as Nomvelo is a hydrologist (a person who studies water science), there are different types, and she predicts floods. She is a firm believer of exercising opportunities to their maximum. “In life, opportunities don’t always present themselves, you have to create them yourself, even in the most unpleasant situations.”
In those unpleasant situations, she advises women in particular, to be kind to themselves and each other. “My message to women is to speak kindly to yourself and use a kind tone. August is Women’s Month- something that is very important, and I am someone who is easily inspired by women around me, regardless of their field. I am inspired by drive and ethics. Women’s Day serves as a reminder of where we come from and where we are going.”
Nomvelo now resides in Cape Town and works as a Hydrologist in one of the leading insurance companies in South Africa, she conducts geoscientific research and gives Geotechnical advice for them. She is also currently pursuing her postgraduate studies in Hydrology at the University of Stellenbosch.