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09 December 2022

HSRC and Portia Ltd to share survey findings at a WSF session on Intersectionality

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Cape Town, Wednesday, 7 December 2022The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in partnership with Portia Ltd, will host a moderated panel discussion titled, Different lens, better outcomes? Intersectionality as a critical component of gender transformative research, at the World Science Forum (WSF). The hybrid session will take place on Thursday, 8 December 2022 at 17h00.

The session is aimed at unpacking intersectionality as an essential conceptual tool in gender transformative research, while providing practical examples of how researchers and grantmakers have adopted this framework to advance science in the service of social justice.

Moreover, the session will reveal the findings of a recent mixed-methods research project that attempted to establish the extent to which and how an intersectional framework is integrated in African grant-making, human capital development and research cycles.

The report highlights the dominance in both African and global scholarship of four social identities: gender, race, socio-economic status and age. The least researched social identity for both regions was disability. According to the research, funding support corresponded with these identities.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer, director of Portia Ltd, which works to improve gender equality in STEM and promote the inclusion of the gender dimension in STEM.

Other panellists include Prof Heidi van Rooyen and Dr Ingrid Lynch (both from the HSRC), leaders of the Science Granting Councils Initiative’s Gender and Inclusivity Project; Dr Dorothy Ngila, from the South African National Research Foundation; Isabella Schmidt from UN Women; Dr Thomas Thayer from Elsevier publishers, and Dr Lilian Hunt from Wellcome Trust.

The session can be attended in person at the WSF venue, Cape Town International Convention Centre Meeting Rooms 1.43–1.44 or virtually on (link)

Details of the event

Date:                 8 December 2022

Time:                 17h00 to 18h30

Venue:              Cape Town International Convention Centre, WSF venue, Meeting Rooms 1.43 – 1.44   


For media inquiries:

Dr Lucky Ditaunyane, Cell: 0832276074, Email: Nematandani, Cell: 0827659191, Email:

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Notes to the Editor

About Portia Ltd

Portia is a not-for-profit organisation founded in London and established in 2001 by a group of women scientists at Imperial College London to advance the understanding of gender issues in science, in participation, in organisational practices, and in science knowledge. In 2018, we established a wholly owned independent subsidiary in Germany, Portia gGmbH, which is also a not-for-profit.

We are often asked about the reasons for our name. There are two. Firstly, Portia is a female character in Shakespeare’s plays portrayed as having a strong sense of self-worth and being intellectually equal to the men around her. Therefore, she is an excellent role model for contemporary generations of women. Secondly, a spider called Portia labiata, which is the cleverest spider in the world, is used in artificial intelligence to model intelligent behaviour. Portia labiata is known for its high cognitive ability, fast and accurate decision making, complicated foraging strategies, which includes choosing the most optimum route to get its prey, and for effectively responding to any unpredictable behaviour of the prey. We felt this was an excellent metaphor for how our organisation could function.

About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration, and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organisations, and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

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