When Dr. Mamphela Ramphele became the vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1997, little did she know that she was breaking a glass ceiling that would be hard to put back together.
And let’s face it, in a world dominated by toxic masculinity, the glass ceiling exists only for women, and in particular, black women.
Ramphele’s rise to the executive role at UCT inspired a generation of women and black people.
In that summer of 1997, Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng was the project manager of Vaal University’s Centre for Community Development and just obtained her master’s in mathematics at Wits University. In 2002, she would become the first black woman in South Africa to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics education. And in 2018, she would succeed Max Price as UCT head honcho, walking through the door opened by Ramphele 21 years earlier.