Passionate Tech Entrepreneur Empowers Young Women Through Coding, Wants More Girls to Pursue Careers in STEM

Passionate Tech Entrepreneur Empowers Young Women Through Coding, Wants More Girls to Pursue Careers in STEM

  • Thokozile Miya has had a love for technology since she was a little girl, building her very first website in primary school
  • The Cape Town-based tech and innovations entrepreneur now wants to empower other young ladies by introducing them to coding through an NGO called GirlHype
  • Girls who have been taught by Thokozile have gone on to study STEM-related courses at university, with the passionate young woman proud to have enriched many ladies' careers

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A stunning Cape Town-based woman is doing the absolute most as a technology entrepreneur and mentor to young ladies.

Among the many hats she wears, Thokozile Miya also functions as the programme manager of a non-profit organisation (NPO) called GirlHype, an establishment that aims to teach coding to young girls.

tech entrepreneur, STEM, women in technology, coding, girlhype, girls, women empowerment, cape town
Thokozile Miya is the programme manager at GirlHype. Image: thokomiyaofficial/Instagram
Source: Instagram

Talking to Briefly News, the entrepreneur reflects on when she first fell in love with coding, her role at GirlHype, and why she feels more women should take on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.

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The young entrepreneur has loved technology since she was very young

Since Thokozile was a little girl, she’s had a great love for technology and coding, with the young woman building her very first website in HTML at the wee age of 11:

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“I entered into coding classes when I was in primary school. I was part of a first-year course led by IT students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). I was in class with matriculants and other high schoolers and was the absolute youngest student in the class, but I managed to build and deploy my own website in HTML to a live server. I was so proud of myself."

The 29-year-old spent the first five years of her life in the city of Matlosana in the North West Province and notes that her mother, Baratang Miya, and her gender-rights activism played a significant role in her love of STEM.

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Barathang is also the founder and director of GirlHype, with the NGO established nearly 19 years ago in Cape Town.

women in tech, STEM, girlhype, coding, south africa, entrepreneurship
GirlHype founder, Barathang Miya, was a role model for her daughter, Thokozile. Image: Girlhype/Facebook and thokomiyaofficial/Instagram
Source: UGC
“I was raised to have my views and opinions expressed. My mom was the first gender-rights advocate I knew. From a young age, I remember receiving toys and clothing that were not gendered and ultimately, an education that empowered me. It is up to us to raise the next generation sustainably,” she said.

Now, the young woman mentors other young girls from various local communities in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Cape Town through the NPO.

The organisation essentially focuses on teaching women between the ages of 12 to 21 how to code and even offers programmes for postgraduate youths who would like to redirect their careers through technology-based education:

“I have managed to make a massive impact on the lives of thousands of girls. In my classes that I personally teach, I have a 100% pass rate, and all of my students go on to study IT and computer science courses at their respective universities. I am proud to have made a difference in many young girls' lives. I want every girl to grow up to become a woman who knows she has a place in any industry she chooses."

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Under-representation of women in STEM

Thokozile explains that careers in coding and related technological fields are still largely male-dominated:

“Despite the fact that many women graduate with degrees in technical fields, the workforce correlation does not represent these ladies and causes a major bulwark to innovation and economic growth. To curb under-representation, it's critical that we work towards synthesising existing research, policies, practices and programmes. Representation matters, and this includes the representation of women."

The young woman notes that although ladies have the skills to take on various roles in STEM, organisational gender bias often leads to them not taking on leadership roles at their companies.

Through the training and support provided to young women through their various clubs and after-school programmes, GirlHype is trying to change the narrative and encourage girls to break the glass ceiling.

“We have trained over one million girls in technology and coding over the years. In our experience, through our in-school clubs, 100% of students will follow a career in technology if the interventions and support are provided in time. The critical age we see is between 15 and 19,” she notes.

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Self-care, balance, and a love of education

Thokozile also has a love for academia and is currently studying towards her Master of Public Relations and Communication Management degree at CPUT.

But even with everything the beaut has going on, she still believes that self-care, self-love and healthy habits are super important.

“I work very long hours, but I keep a strict schedule and make sure to rest often. I am part of a running crew and enjoy long-distance running. I love my family, and with all our schedules, we still somehow manage to make it work,” she said.

Thokozile notes that if young women are interested in careers in STEM, hard work and honing their skills will lead to success:

“The best thing you can do for yourself is to continually boat your skills, put in your 10 000 hours’ worth of practice, and always place your abilities ahead of anything."

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Source: Briefly News

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