Growing up in Klerksdorp, studying in a township, and graduating from the University of Cape Town (UCT), shaped founder and CEO at GirlHype Coders, Baratang Miya’s vision of growing women and girls in the science, engineering, technology, and maths (STEM) space.
“At university I struggled with English and it was the first time I ever touched a computer. It made my life a misery. I also got involved in student politics and learned a lot about the challenges facing young women, so I started the first women’s movement on campus.”
A firm believer in promoting female education, coding skills and Web design, Miya taught herself how to code and started helping girls to learn the technical skills needed to succeed in today’s workplace.
She began by going to schools and working with the girls, encouraging them to understand maths and technology.
“One day when I was designing a PowerPoint presentation at an Internet cafe, I sat next a computer science student. We used to bounce ideas off each other, and I wasn’t happy with my layout. He suggested designing it to accommodate a Web site, but I didn’t know how, so he showed me, and within an hour I had designed my first Web page. The feeling was amazing. I decided this is what I wanted to do.”
A life-changing moment for Miya was being recognised internationally and being chosen by the US State Department’s TechWomen 2015 programme, though which she got to spend six weeks in Silicon Valley, working alongside industry leaders.
Miya, who had been working for various organisations including Mozilla and Adobe, as well as the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative at the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn, started GirlHype as a business in 2003.
She ran it full time until 2007, but as the business was facing too many challenges, she pursued other sources of income.
After her experience with 2015 TechWomen, she came back and officially focused on GirlHype as a full-time employee. GirlHype has helped over 10 000 women and girls to date.