The Department of Chemical Engineering celebrates Women’s Month

It’s Women’s Month! To celebrate, the Department of Chemical Engineering’s staff were treated to tea and treats on Friday, 10 August. Hosted by departmental stalwart Ms Francis Layman, the occasion included delicious, home-baked cakes by Ms Levine Simmers, as well as the musical talents of Ms Layman on the guitar. Mr Jaco van Rooyen – a senior technical officer – chimed in on the accordion. Among the pieces he played was Aloha’ Oe, a tribute to his now-retired colleague, Ms Hanlie Botha.  

To further celebrate the women of our department, we spoke to a few of them about what being a woman means to them, and the wisdom they have gathered along the way:  

Prof Annie Chimphango (Lecturer)  

1. Where are you originally from?


2. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be confident; you are the most special person in this world. Do not give yourself limits on what you can achieve because you can achieve more than what you think you can. You need a positive attitude to achieve greater goals. Don’t fear to FAIL; this is merely the First Attempt ILearning and could be your steppingstone to greater success.  

 Ms Enid Otto (Departmental administration)  

1. Where are you originally from? 

I was born in Gardens, Cape Town, but have lived in Vredenburg, Pretoria and currently in Somerset West.

2. Please tell us more about your work for the department.

Over 14 years, I did it all! I also enjoyed the position of Technical Secretary (with Prof Leon Lorenzen and Prof Cyril O’Connor of the University of Cape Town) to [helping to organise] the International Mineral Processing Council Conference of 2003 at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.  

3. Complete the sentence: Women…

 Women should challenge stereotypes, broaden perceptions, flight bias, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand.

4. What advice would you give to your younger self?

As we grow older, real beauty travels from the face to the heart, appeal turns to charm, hurt to wisdom and great moments to shared memories. The true beauty of life is not how happy you are now but how happy others are because of you.

Ms Mieke de Jager (Postgraduate and Research Manager)

1. Where are you originally from? 

I was raised in Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha), studied and started working in Bloemfontein, and have been living in the Boland since 2016.

2. What advice would you give to your younger self?

You’ll reach a point in life when you look back and realise that you are living the dream you once had for yourself. The difficult times will pass and they’ll make you stronger and wiser. Hang in there!

Ms Reitumetse (Tumi) Kholumo (Postgraduate student)

1.  Where are you originally from? 

 Welkom, Free State

2. Complete the sentence: Women…

Women are people too.  

3. What advice would you give to your younger self?

You are neither defined by your failures nor your successes. You transcend them both.

Photos: Mr Jaco van Rooyen and Ms  Francis Layman entertain guests with their musical talents.
Featured image: Ms Francis Layman during Women’s Month celebrations at the Department of Chemical Engineering. The cakes seen here were baked by Ms Levine Simmers.