Back to Africa Check

No, there aren't only 34 female professors in South Africa

This article is more than 9 years old

Are there really only 34 women among South Africa's 4,000 university professors? This claim appeared in two leading South African publications over the past month.

The first mention was in a column by prominent academic and author Xolela Mangcu published late last month. In it, he stated that only "34 or 0.85% of the total number of South African professors are women”. The claim was repeated again this week in the blurb of a Mail & Guardian profile but the article has been corrected today after people called the claim into question.

One of them was education researcher Nic Spaull, who tweeted an article on staff transformation at UCT which included data on academic staff drawn from the Department of Higher Education and Training.

According to the writer, UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price, there were 34 black African women who were full-time professors at South Africa’s universities in 2012. Thirteen universities had either none or one female African full-time professor. The University of Limpopo had both the largest number of male (32) and female (7) African professors in that year.

Tom Moultrie, a demographer at the University of Cape Town, said that according to the latest data available on the Higher Education Data Analyzer Portal, women account for 24.6% of all professors in South Africa. "Of course, that proportion is still very, very low. And more needs to be done," he tweeted.

The claim that there are only 34 female professor in South Africa is therefore false. – Africa Check (14/08/14)


Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.