This was my first full day in South Africa. Several of the US delegates, a delegate from the Netherlands, and I headed into Cape Town for part of the day. We started at the Victorian and Alfred waterfront and ended up walking to the Company’s Garden. We went into St. George’s cathedral (where Desmond Tutu preached and the location of clashes with police and anti apartheid protesters in the 1980’s) and also Parliament. It was a good way to try to overcome some jet lag.
In the early evening the 4th International Conference on Women in Physics officially opened followed by a reception. We were addressed by the Minister of Science and Technology, Ms. Naledi Pandor. She talked about the efforts that South Africa is taking to encourage women and blacks to become scientists. She is very proud of her daughter who is a Ph.D. candidate in genetics so she understands the joys and struggles of becoming a scientists through the experiences of her daughter. At the end, the South African delegates sang their national anthem – very touching. I saw Marina Milner-Bolotin (one of AAPT’s Board members and a delegate from Canada) tonight. And, I met many, many other women physicists from across the globe. I have some beautiful pictures of Cape Town and of the delegates. But, I am not able to upload pictures because the bandwidth is not good at the hotel – I may try tomorrow. The plenary sessions, workshops, and posters start tomorrow. It should be interesting to learn about other countries efforts to increase participation of women in physics. Good night!