Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
17 August 2021 | Story Nonsindiso Qwabe | Photo Sonia Small (Kaleidoscope Studios)
Bold and fearless - Prof Aliza le Roux.

Prof Aliza le Roux is Associate Professor in Zoology and Entomology, and Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences on the UFS Qwaqwa Campus. 

A researcher at heart, and with a passion for researching wild mammals, small carnivores, and primates, Prof Le Roux says she is extremely curious and loves to know about a lot of different things.

I decided that I wanted to do something with wildlife, so I completed a BSc degree at Stellenbosch University. One day a professor said: “I just got back from doing research – we were catching lizards along the Orange River” – and I remember thinking, ‘yes, I can see that as my life’. Research is a fantastic career for anyone with curiosity and perseverance. You must have a good dose of bull-headed persistence. We all have the baseline intelligence, but anyone who has studied up to PhD will tell you that it is the persistence that carries you through.

Is there a woman who inspires you and who you would like to celebrate this Women’s Month, and why?

What drew me into a career in research was Dian Fossey, an American researcher who was known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups. She had the guts to go out there and be there in the wilderness as the only woman there, doing stuff under extremely difficult conditions. 

Recently, it will be Simone Biles – she does the most mind-blowing stuff with gymnastics – who said she could not go forward with competing in the Olympics because of health reasons. I cannot imagine what guts it takes to say no at such a high-profile sporting event. The ability to say no is something that few of us possess, so right now she is a person I would love to celebrate. I am inspired by women who have the guts and the fact that you believe enough in yourself to do something, despite what others might have to say about it. 

What is your response to current challenges faced by women and available platforms for women development?
There is never enough support or platforms available for the development of women while you have domestic violence and GBV at such insane rates in this country. It’s still a women’s problem, whereas its men perpetrating this and women implicitly supporting it in the way we raise young men and respond to things such as rape accusations. 

It’s a societal problem, and I personally will not be happy until I see this changing in the country. You can look at the massive inequalities and gender biases and the things that are stacked against women, and then feel overwhelmed and step back and say this is too big a problem, I can’t do anything about it. You might not be able to tackle the big problem, but you can chip away at it. Everybody must contribute in a small way. 

What advice would you give to the 15-year-old you?

Be bold. Be fearless. I slowly started becoming like that at that age, but I could have started earlier. I should have told her I was gay; that would have helped. 

What would you say makes you a woman of quality, impact, and care?

There’s a healthy dose of guts and believing in yourself – that is the only way to make an impact. You cannot make an impact if you are doubting your own value, and this is difficult, because we are raised in many instances to be meek, raised to not be leaders but followers, and it’s difficult to overcome that and realise that you are bringing something unique to this world. 

The university is taking some very good steps with the mentorship programmes that it supports. But I would love to see more mentorship for students. Young men and young women in our care being inspired to talk and rethink how they treat women and what equality really means. We need to create more reflective people.

News Archive

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.