Mom Of The Month : October 2018

This month’s #MomOfTheMonth interview had a theme of mentorship and camaraderie flowing through it and I have found that this is of great importance for any STEM Mom. This theme and outcome from my own study (as well as several others before mine) was the very reason why I started The STEM Moms Club! Studies commonly show that a lack of role models and mentors are one of the contributing factors to women exiting the STEM pipeline. Due to a rather chilly climate towards women and a lonely existence in most STEM environments; women in STEM struggle to identify a way to navigate their career paths or to have the support to discuss the challenges they encounter. I identify strongly with these findings, especially remembering my earlier days as a young engineer and the only female in my team. I hope, that if anything, after reading today’s article you will think deeply about the role of mentorship in your own journey. How do we each show up or provide guidance to our colleagues? Do we value the lessons we’ve learnt on our journey in order to share those with others who are still finding their way? – Sometimes it is that simple. This month’s mom finds that seeing more examples of STEM females in her work environment has helped her to move past any barriers she may have previously encountered.


Meet Victoria Maxase, our mamma in pink. She’s pictured here with her best friend and colleague Tshidi.


Name: Victoria Maxase


Location: Secunda, Mpumalanga


Job title: Senior Technologist – Instrument and Control Engineering


Company: Sasol

Victoria Maxase (right) and her friend and colleague, Tshidi (left)

Victoria is a mom to Kwandile, who she says is her motivating force to continue doing what she does and to be a great role model to him. She also mentions that her husband forms the biggest part of her support system, as he is able to share responsibilities and assist when things get crazy on the work front. This talented mom has even found time to pursue her hobby of party/event planning and décor in her free-time!

An interview with a fellow STEM mom

1. What does your everyday work entail?


Plant emergency support, projects meetings, Root cause analysis and design reviews.


2. What career path led you to your current work?


I studied Process and instrumentation (Engineering light current).


Victoria then worked at Eskom at the Arnot Power Station and later moved to Sasol where she is currently part of the Instrument and Control Engineering department.


3. How did you decide to move into this career path?- was it a certain

    person or moment which initiated it all?


I had an aunt who worked at Eskom. She would often talk to me about the work she did and I was immediately interested in pursuing a similar route.


4. Was there ever a time that you recall wanting to change paths & what

    convinced you to continue on your chosen path?


Yes, there have been times where I have experienced conflict in my working environment. Over time I have come to realise that [because of the diversity within our teams] everyone’s views differ from each other, mainly due to a different upbringing. There may be those who grapple with their personal issues whilst at work, whilst others keep these areas separate. I continued to persevere because I realise, that my chosen path cannot be about the people around me. My path is about the goal that I have set for myself.


5. Name the one thing which excites you about your field of work.


I love working within the field of engineering. We are solving problems every day. I work with passionate engineers, which allows me to be exposed to a different way of thinking. I’m always learning, that’s what I love.


6. Do you find that there are still barriers within the STEM field?


I am superwoman, a phenomenal woman, but there are always challenges. My personality has allowed me to speak out and be direct when I disagree with something. There are always people who enrol you in their negativity. I choose to ignore them. Succeeding in this space means surrounding yourself and spending time with people who empower.


7. Did becoming a mom change how you experienced your field of work?


Becoming a mom, taught me how to balance family life and work.


8. How do you think organisational spaces could be improved upon in

    order to better support women in STEM?


I hope that the company I work for, will organise conferences for women.


9. What do you hope to achieve within your career, whether in

    the short/long term?


I hope that in the long term I could move into a more senior management position. I have seen other women moving up in my own organisation, which inspires me. It lets me know that I can do that too. I speak to these women and share my own challenges and I find that it puts my own problems into perspective. I also hope to assist needy people and to eventually mentor those new comers in engineering, especially women.


10. Would you encourage your little one(s) & other young girls to move

      into career similar to your own & why?


Yes, the majority of men in this field may think that it’s their work, but technology doesn’t choose gender. Our work is all about capability and passion.


11. What's your favourite mom &kiddie activity?


Art, and swimming.


12. Please could you give fellow STEM moms some advice on how to

      navigate the challenges within our field?


First set achievable goals, nurture it and do everything correct the first time. Always aim to be at the top. Do not let others break you. Be a great example to your kids. If they can keep trying at everything they do, so can you!




Thanks to Victoria for giving up some of her precious time in a very busy schedule and agreeing to be our featured mom! If you’d like to discuss mentorship/coaching from a STEM mom’s perspective, be sure to give me a shout 🙂 


Our new feature is still in its infancy, so let me know what you enjoy 👍 or dislike  👎about it. Also be sure to leave a comment and share, share, share (using #MomOfTheMonth and #TheSTEMmomsClub).


Inbox me any suggestions for future features on phenomenal STEM moms!