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By Zenoyise Madikwa | Feb 25, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

WOMEN who have been historically under-represented in the academic ranks of the economics profession are slowly making inroads in the profession.

The feminisation of the workforce has had a huge influence on this. Hundreds of South African women are now thriving in the labour market.

Though they still battle prejudice, more and more women are scaling the heights of elegant professions.

One reason for this, says Tendani Mantshimuli, consumer economist at Liberty Life, is the increasing complexity of figuring out what is really happening on the business scene that has created a demand for trained economists that often makes ability outweigh gender.

The growing stature of women economists is most obvious in the economic research realms of business that look at customer behavior where competition has weakened racism and anti-female prejudices.

Mantshimuli's job is to examine economic trends that look at consumer behavior in the life business. To determine where the economy is going, she pores over mountains of statistics on trade, inflation, retail sales and other matters that affect customer value.

She earned her junior and honours degrees from the University of Limpopo, and later enrolled for a Master's in Economics at the University of Kentucky in the US.

Mantshimuli, who is intensely ambitious and keenly aware of her own prowess as an economist, has had a varied career that started when she served as a senior economist in the National Accounting Division in 1999. She later took over as head of department.

In 2007 she became senior economist overlooking the research department.

She has created several opportunities to apply the tools of economics to unravelling some of the country's most enduring problems.

She says these opportunities were all high points because they gave her the kind of intuition needed for economic analysis and made her see the power of the tools she had in action.

The articulate, ambitious and almost frighteningly bright woman, says a lot of people avoid economics because it is viewed " not so cheery as science".

She says: "Most of the time we caution people on overspending, but I look at it as empowering consumers to know how it will impact on their balance sheet."

Mantshimuli, who hails from a very humble background in Tshaulu village in Limpopo, says the recent Budget was fairly balanced .

"The minister managed to give back R6,5billion to South Africans in tax relief that is geared to low income earners.

"The only challenge is the 25cents increase in fuel prices, but that was necessary because half of it will finance the fuel line from the coast to Gauteng."

The mother of two teens has travelled widely and loves reading to "broaden her mind".


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