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[LISTEN] Nuclear scientist Senamile Masango on overcoming race and gender bias

Senamile Masango is known as one of South Africa's most successful black woman scientists under the age of 35.

She was part of the first African team to lead an experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and obtained her master's degree in nuclear physics from the University of the Western Cape earlier this year.

RELATED: International Women's Day celebrates women in technology

Masango tells 702's Gushwell Brooks about her journey from rural KwaZulu-Natal to top in her field, starting with her fascination when her geography teacher first told her about astronauts.

I was so fascinated as a 10-year-old, I thought 'Wow! These people can go to space, people who learn about the stars and the universe and where we come from as human beings!'

Senamile Masango, Nuclear scientist

I also wanted to be the first black woman to travel to space.

Senamile Masango, Nuclear scientist

Masango says she had the support of her family in pursuing her academic dreams but on her professional journey, she's had to deal with the constant challenge of overcoming bias in terms of both race and gender.

If you are a woman no-one believes in you unfortunately and number two, is the issue of race.

Senamile Masango, Nuclear scientist

It's not only a South African thing - it's a global issue.

Senamile Masango, Nuclear scientist

Masanto started a foundation to help young women on their own journey to self-belief and success.

I go to the deep rural areas and talk about science so that they can relate to my story because I also come from KwaZulu-Natal, a deep rural area called Nongoma.

Senamile Masango, Nuclear scientist

I am sending a positive message to young people - they can also do it. It's really possible, and I'm doing one of the most challenging subjects in the world.

Senamile Masango, Nuclear scientist

I just want to send a message to women that they must not be discouraged, whether they're in accounting or whether they're in acting because we are all facing the same issues as women.

Senamile Masango, Nuclear scientist

Listen to this inspiring conversation here:

Images from Senamile Masango Foundation Facebook page


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