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Prof. Nicola Smit – Dean of Law: University of Stellenbosch

This week on Womanity-Women in Unity Dr. Amaleya Goneos-Malka talks to Professor Nicola Smit, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Stellenbosch. We discuss aspects of her vision for the faculty that include spearheading legal education, building capacity and having a deep social impact on communities. We acknowledge the fact that today’s graduates will likely work in new careers that don’t yet exist.

Prof. Smit shares one of her approaches to leadership, which she describes as “leadership constellation”. This view posits that a leader can only be first among equals and provides opportunities for his or her people (stars) to develop themselves and lead in their own areas of expertise, ultimately striving to develop an organisation that mirrors a constellation of stars (people) that shine brightly leading their respective disciplines and helping each other navigate calm as well as tricky waters. She also reflects on the importance of diverse inputs in teams to bring out the best of team members. 

We remark on the low representation of women in leadership, noting that the glass ceiling might have shifted but it hasn’t disappeared. Efforts need to be undertaken to ensure that where decisions are made there is representation of women. Furthermore, regulatory frameworks should be in place to help share the burden of domestic work that often compromises a woman’s ability to participate fully in the labour force. For example, increasing paternity leave is an intervention that would help distribute parental loads. Prof Smit, closes the conversation with a quote from Maya Angelou, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”  Tune in for more…

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