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SN 2 EP 3: A Symphony of Success: Professor Masanja's Unconventional Path from Arts to Academia

Explore the inspiring journey of Professor Grace Verdiana Masanja, the first Tanzanian woman with a Ph.D. in mathematics.

Published onJan 10, 2024
SN 2 EP 3: A Symphony of Success: Professor Masanja's Unconventional Path from Arts to Academia
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The confidence of women is still very low , you cannot remove it overnight because it has been built through society socialization throughout their lives | Prof. Grace Verdiana Masanja

Mazungumzo- African Scholarly Conversations SN 2 EP 3 | Spotify, Afripods, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn

Professor Grace Verdiana Musanja is a woman of firsts, setting the pace for women to pursuing STEM careers. She is the first Tanzanian woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics and the first black woman from sub-Saharan Africa to enroll in the fluid mechanics course at the Technical University of Berlin in Germany.

The Professor`s narrates her  inspiring journey that unfolds resilience and determination, showcasing her commitment to empowering women in STEM. Our host Joy Owango explores Masanja's unexpected shift from music to mathematics in her early education and the challenges she faced during her Ph.D. studies in Germany. Despite prevailing biases against women in mathematics, Masanja excelled, breaking barriers in both Tanzania and Germany.

The conversation highlights Masanja's advocacy for gender equality in academia, drawing on successful initiatives in Rwanda. She emphasizes the importance of policies promoting women's representation and shares insights into flexible Ph.D. programs and mentorship for women in STEM. The discussion extends to the broader efforts of the Organization for Women in Science and Development (OWSD), emphasizing the enduring relevance of mathematics and the need for Africans to contribute actively to technology and innovation.

Professor Masanja's journey is not just a personal triumph but a call to action. It beckons the STEM community to break down barriers, champion gender equality, and actively contribute to the advancement of technology and innovation. As we celebrate her accomplishments, we are reminded that the path to progress in STEM is paved with determination, advocacy, and a commitment to empower future generations.

Access this episode’s transcript here.

Guest Profile

Professor Grace Verdiana Masanja

ORCID: 0000-0003-4844-9133

Professor Grace Verdiana Masanja is a pioneering mathematician, the first Tanzanian woman with a Ph.D. in mathematics and the initial black woman from sub-Saharan Africa enrolled in the fluid mechanics course at the Technical University of Berlin. With 47 years in academia, she retired as a full-time professor in 2022. Dedicated to advancing women in STEM, she's played key roles in global committees and received accolades, including the University of Dar-es-Salaam Outstanding Award in 2011. Appointed by President Samia Suluhu, she currently chairs the board of governors of the Tanzania Forestry Research Institute (TAFORI) until 2026. Professor Verdiana's legacy is marked by her impactful contributions to education and gender equality in mathematics.



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