Buttons and Breakfasts: The Wits Wonderwoman Book

The Wits WonderWomen are a group of academics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Buttons and Breakfasts is a collection of their writings and reflections on growing up in a man's world, and working in an environment peopled by male professors. There are journeys here from dusty township to dental school, from dropout to doctorate. There are testimonies of careers kept aloft through sexual harassment cases, pregnancies, cancer, marital breakup and personal despair. In these pages, the secret lives of women academics come to light - the sacrifices they've made in their passionate commitment to their chosen discipline and to their students. Sometimes profoundly solitary, sometimes bolstered by the sisterhood, sometimes warrior-like and sometimes weeping, they've crossed borders and boundaries of the academic and personal unknown. From moving tales of grandmothers and mothers to irreverent satires of university life, the pieces in this book offer an explicit counter-narrative. The collection is eclectic and quirky, it is a book to dip into and savour in fragments. It will offer resonance for other academic women, cautionary and inspirational tales for young women planning a career, and some startling insights for men who wonder what women really are thinking. The collection includes a number of illustrations (including an academic board game) and a photo-essay capturing the mysterious and unseen spaces of university life.