Zandile Mkwanazi Interview

Aug 3, 2023

In honour of Women's Month, and all the #TechSHEroes in our beautiful nation we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on the incredible achievements of women in the technology industry.

Among the outstanding individuals we've had the privilege of supporting on their remarkable journey is Zandile Mkhwanazi, the dynamic CEO of Girl Code. Zandile's inspiring story traces back to her roots with Boxfusion, where she embarked on her mission to champion diversity and representation in the tech world. Recognizing the need for greater visibility of underrepresented individuals, Zandile founded Girl Code ZA. We caught up with her to find out a little more about her take on being a women in tech.  

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in tech, and how has it shaped your life?

When I was in University I had an opportunity to be part of an internship opportunity where we built Software for companies and that was basically the catalyst that inspired me to pursue a career in tech because I recognized the immense potential it holds for empowering individuals and transforming communities. I saw how technology has become an integral part of our lives. Tech has shaped my life in many ways. It has provided me with a platform to make a positive impact and bridge the gender gap in the industry. Through my work, I have witnessed how learning to code can boost girls' confidence, foster critical thinking skills, and open doors to new career paths. It has been incredibly rewarding to witness the transformative power of technology in the lives of the girls we work with.

2. What challenges have you faced as a woman in the tech industry, and how did you overcome them?

As a woman in the tech industry and an entrepreneur, I've faced several challenges. One of the main obstacles is the underrepresentation of women in this field, which often leads to a lack of diverse perspectives and opportunities. I've encountered biases and stereotypes that have questioned my abilities and undermined my expertise. However, I believe in turning challenges into opportunities.

To overcome these obstacles, I have focused on building a strong network of like-minded individuals, both within and outside the industry, who support and uplift one another. I have actively sought mentorship and participated in women-led initiatives to empower myself and others. By proving my capabilities through my work, I aim to challenge the preconceptions and biases that exist.

3. Can you share a story or experience where you made a significant impact or breakthrough in your tech career?

Certainly! One of the most significant breakthroughs in my tech career was when we introduced coding workshops specifically tailored for girls in underprivileged communities. During one of these workshops, I met a young girl who came from a disadvantaged background and had never been exposed to technology before.

Through our program, She discovered her passion for coding and realized her potential in the tech industry. Over time, she developed exceptional skills and became an advocate for girls' education in STEM as well. Today, she is pursuing a degree in computer science and continues to inspire other girls in her community. This experience reinforced my belief in the power of education and the transformative impact it can have on individuals and communities.

4. How can we encourage more girls to pursue STEM education and careers in tech from an early age?

To encourage more girls to pursue STEM education and careers in tech from an early age, we need to take a multi-faceted approach:

First we need to provide equal access and resources and ensure that girls have access to quality STEM education, coding classes, and technology resources, regardless of their socioeconomic background. This can be achieved by establishing partnerships between schools, non-profits, and tech companies to create inclusive learning environments.

I also believe in the power of mentorship. By highlighting successful women in tech as role models, we can inspire and motivate young girls. We have established mentorship programs that connect girls with female professionals in the industry who can provide guidance and support.

Lastly, we need to challenge stereotypes. This can be done by promoting positive representations of women in tech through media, storytelling, and events. We need to encourage girls to pursue their interests in STEM fields and challenge societal stereotypes that discourage their involvement.

By implementing these, we can create an inclusive and diverse tech industry that harnesses the talent and potential of all individuals, regardless of their gender.

To all the aspiring women in tech; take heart from the extraordinary journey and inspiring advice of Zandile Mkhwanazi and the countless trailblazers like her. Embrace your uniqueness and let it be the driving force behind your pursuit of excellence. Remember, even the grandest achievements begin with small, passionate steps. As you embark on your path, don't shy away from seeking mentorship, leveraging available resources, and breaking barriers with unyielding determination. Your voice, your vision, and your brilliance are not just welcomed but eagerly awaited in the realm of technology. Together, let us continue breaking down barriers, rewriting the narrative, and propelling the tech industry to new heights. Empowered with knowledge, skills, and a network of allies, the future belongs to you, and we cannot wait to witness the extraordinary contributions you will make.

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