I will never forget how shocked my friends were when I boldly announced my intention to study Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University. And how their shock echoed back at me in twinges of apprehension as I arrived, on that very first day in 1995, at JS Marais Building at Stellenbosch University, to be greeted by a not terribly welcoming tannie who told me: “Young lady you are in the wrong department! Check on your registration form which course you have registered for!”
I was baffled because I had visited the department before I signed up. I had, in fact, met with the Dean of the faculty prior to registration and I knew I was in the correct place. It turned out that the irate tannie at reception suffered some confusion at seeing a young woman registering for this particular course simply because it was completely out of the norm.”
And this conviction held by many in the realm of farming and agriculture that only those raised on farms, who were dominantly white and male, would be the ones studying and leading in this field is an opinion that I and many other women working and studying in the agricultural sciences were often confronted with.