The Empower Track

Join a community of women using digital and computational skills in research and beyond!

In 2022 we ran a 8-step programme to help female researchers and postgraduate students in humanities, social sciences, and related fields grow their digital/computational skills.

We developed templates that may assist with learning new tools/technologies/methodologies.

The information below is kept for posterity.


All sessions are open to women currently involved in humanities or social sciences research or teaching at public universities or research councils in South Africa interested in learning new digital/computational skills.

No previous experience with digital scholarship or computational research required.

We welcome all women interested to learn more!

Join our meetups

Weekly onboarding & refreshers

An optional meeting for women who are just joining or who would like an informal refresher. Bring your questions or tell us what you’re working on? Stay for the full hour or just drop in for a few minutes.
Every Tuesday @ 14:00 - 15:00 SAST.

Monthly research tool presentations

Each month we’ll have speakers to share information about various tools that can be used in specific phases of your research workflow. All sessions are recorded and shared on the ESCALATOR YouTube Channel. The full programme is detailed below.

Monthly co-working & collaboration sessions

Participants are invited to join the monthly collaboration and co-working sessions. Use the time to work through tutorials or other learning materials, discuss challenges and successes, ask questions about how to move forward, and more!

Our 8-step plan


There is a plethora of digital tools and practices we can employ in our research. Watch the recording from our first session. We explored research tools across the research lifecycle through 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication - discovery, analysis, writing, publication, outreach, and assessment. We also looked at research workflows to see which tools work well together.


Once we’ve taken a step back to look at various research workflows, we can take a moment to review our own. Which tools and methodologies do we use? What is happening in our respective research fields? What is happening across the research lifecycle in our own work? What do other people in our community do? Use our reflection template to think about your own workflows and practices.


The next step is to consider what we would like to change in our research workflows? What might have the largest impact in the short term - the next few weeks or months? What do you need to learn to complete a project that you’re working on? What new skill or tool could be a stepping stone to the next thing? Think through these questions at the hand of our learning path template.


Throughout it all, we’ll help to embed you in a community of women on the same journey. Although each of us will be following a personalised learning path, learning different tools and skills, each at our own pace, we’ll be learning together. We will also introduce you to other online learning communities that could provide tool- or methodology-specific support. Join us now.


Use our templates to help with designing a SMART plan for learning the new skill or tool you identified in the previous steps. We’ll help you set goals, provide support throughout the planning and learning process, and celebrate your success. This eight-step process can be repeated to continue upskilling yourself now and in the future.


As part of the SMART plan, you will identify ways to incorporate what you’ve learned in your work in the short term. We will help you to identify opportunities for applying your new skills and making it part of existing research workflows.


EMPOWER offers an online learning community where you can learn from presenters and peers, and share your own expertise and experience. You can join our co-working sessions to try new things out, get feedback, show others what you’re working on, where you’re getting stuck, or what you have accomplished.


We know the women in our community have diverse needs based on career stage, research topic, personal situation, access to infrastructure and other resources to name only a few. We also know that everyone learns at their own pace. Some may take the rest of the year to learn their new skill/tool, others may set new goals every few weeks or months. We look forward to embarking on this learning journey with you!

Past events - 2022

Our 2021 programme

Slides and recordings available

How Stories Breathe: A Digital Perspective
R for Humanities and Social Sciences
Growing tech skills as part of a community
There's a place for you in this digital world!

EMPOWER Working Group 2022

Thanks to the positive response from the community, we established a small working group to lead the design, development, and implementation of the second iteration of the EMPOWER track. In February 2022 the team had an initial brainstorming meeting to discuss ideas and needs identified in the community. Subsequently, in March 2022, we ran an interactive community event where participants had the opportunity to share their own experiences and needs.

Based on lived experiences of the working group members (as women in humanities/social sciences research environments in South Africa) and our community members who participated in past events, the most significant need identified was described as follows:

There are many opportunities to learn about digital and computational skills, resources, practices and methodologies in research through open educational resources, online training opportunities, hands-on workshops, webinars and talks. A learning environment is lacking where theory is introduced, and participants get a chance to apply the newly learned skill in their work through practice, collaboration, and connection.


Dr Caroll Hermann


Senior Lecturer - Psychology


Ms Marissa Griesel


Project manager, researcher and specialised trainer for the UNISA node of SADiLaR


Ms Nomalungelo Maphanga


Project Manager & Data Science Mentor


Ms Sisanda Nkoala

CPUT: Media Department

Journalism lecturer & Curriculum officer


Neo Putini


MA Candidate & Freelance Language Consultant