The University of Pretoria has a proud tradition of female leadership and alumnae who are driving transformation across all spheres

Women in leadership positions are sorely lacking globally, yet gender parity is slowly gaining traction. Women who have made it to the top in their areas of expertise are garnering attention. The same goes for the significant number of esteemed academic achievers and female leaders who, over the years, have graduated from the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

‘The national commemoration of Women’s Month offers an opportunity to celebrate some of our outstanding female academics and alumnae who are making a significant contribution in their respective fields,’ says Elsabé Loots, professor and outgoing Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences dean. She stresses that developing and enabling women to contribute on all levels – not only in SA but also globally – has and always will be an important focus of the faculty, which celebrated its centenary in 2020.

Margaret chitiga-Mabugu 
Professor and newly appointed dean of UP’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences

‘We are proud that so many of our leadership team members are women and that our alumnae are using their qualifications to make an impact,’ says Loots. ‘I wish to celebrate the extraordinary roles that women play in shaping, not only our new generation of students, but also making their mark in society.’

Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu – professor and director of the School of Public Management and Administration [SPMA] in the faculty – will take over the reins as dean in August 2021. ‘She is the third female dean and follows not only in my footsteps, but also in those of Carolina Koornhof, the first woman to be appointed as dean of this faculty,’ says Loots.

Stella Nkomo was the first female to be appointed as the faculty’s deputy dean for research and postgraduate studies, followed by Jenny Hoobler and, at present, Karin Barac.

The new dean, Chitiga-Mabugu, obtained her PhD in economics at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Following a period of nearly seven years as lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, she joined UP in July 2002 as a senior lecturer. From 2006 to 2010, she served as associate professor in the department of economics, and in December 2010 she was appointed as a full professor. From 2010 to 2014, Chitiga-Mabugu served on the Human Sciences Research Council as executive director of the Economic Performance and Development programme, responsible for programme research, finance, fund raising, management and programme performance. She re-joined UP in 2016 as SPMA director.

Chitiga-Mabugu is a project co-ordinator for the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa, a position she has held since 2006. She is also teaches public finance at the Joint Facility for Electives at the African Economic Research Consortium, where she has been a member-at-large of the academic board for four years, and acts as a resource person.

Other achievements and positions include research director for the Partnership for Economic Policy; member of the Stockholm Environment Institute Science Advisory Council and of the Academy of Science of South Africa; vice-president and council member of the African Association of Environmental and Resource Economists; co-chair of the International Technical Group for the International Labour Organisation’s Climate Action for Jobs Initiative; and board member of Enterprises University of Pretoria.

Chitiga-Mabugu is part of several research teams in organisations such as the UN Environment Programme, the UN Development Programme, the International Labour Organisation and the World Bank.

Setting the energy and environmental fraternity ablaze, Roula Inglesi-Lotz is another prime example of women leadership excellence in the faculty. Since completing her PhD in economics at UP in 2011, she has garnered several academic distinctions and awards, making headlines both locally and abroad. On the research side, Inglesi-Lotz is a Y-rated NRF researcher and produces a constant stream of impactful academic papers annually in the field of energy and environmental economics.

In 2017, she was recognised by the national Department of Science and Technology and received the award for Distinguished Young Woman Researcher in the Humanities and Social Sciences category at the Women in Science Awards. That same year she was selected as a member of the South African Young Academy of Science, of which she was co-chair in 2020.

In 2018, along with a team of energy experts, Inglesi-Lotz founded the South African Association for Energy Economics (SAAEE), a recognised affiliate of the International Association for Energy Economics. She remains the president of SAAEE. In the same year, she was selected as a member of the Global Young Academy, of which she was elected as co-chair for 2021/22. In this capacity, she promotes and encourages efforts in science communication and policy advice internationally.

Little did Fulbright scholar Jenny Hoobler know, when she was a visiting scholar in 2011 to 2012, that she would steadily climb the ladder at the faculty right to the top as full professor and doctoral programmes manager, and serve as deputy dean of Research and Postgraduate Studies for one year.

Roula Inglesi-Lotz 
(left) Researcher 
and  PhD alumna
Jenny Hoobler
(right) Doctoral 
programmes manager

Prior to joining the faculty, Hoobler served in various academic positions at universities in the US. She was a research/teaching assistant and instructor at the University of Kentucky until 2002. From 2002 to 2005 she was assistant professor at Northern Illinois University (College of Business) and, from 2005 to 2010, assistant professor, before becoming associate professor (2010 to 2014) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Business Administration where, from 2012 to 2014, she was also director of the Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development.

During her academic career, Hoobler has garnered more than 30 awards and honours. Recent recognitions include B-3 NRF-rated researcher (2015); Outstanding Reviewer, Africa Journal of Management (2017); an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (2017); visiting distinguished thought leader at the University of South Australia (2018); and UP Exceptional Achiever (2020).

As an expert in the areas of gender and diversity in the workplace, leadership and work and family intersection, Hoobler has been invited to deliver presentations on gender and diversity topics around the world. In 2020, she became associate editor (the first from an African institution) of top industrial psychology and management publication, Journal of Applied Psychology.

The faculty also salutes the great number of alumnae who have distinguished themselves, both in the academic world and in various other industries. While these individuals work in diverse industries, the common denominator is the solid foundation of an UP Economic and Management Sciences qualification.

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