Siphosethu Zantsi is a physiotherapist working in the clinical setting and has experience in both the public and private sectors. Zantsi assesses and treats patients who have suffered injuries or have conditions that affect their movement and quality of life. She is also currently pursuing a master’s in child amputee research.

Siphosethu Zantsi - Geeky Girl Reality Interview 

Name: Siphosethu Zantsi 

Role/Occupation: Physiotherapist

Country: South Africa

Siphosethu Zantsi is a physiotherapist working in the clinical setting and has experience in both the public and private sectors. Zantsi assesses and treats patients who have suffered injuries or have conditions that affect their movement and quality of life. She assists patients in improving their functional abilities or adapting their function in order for them to regain as much independence as possible, whilst also educating patients and assisting them by issuing appropriate assistive devices where necessary. She is also currently pursuing a master’s in child amputee research.

Zantsi's feels that while her work can be gruelling and involve unpredictable occurrences, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic, she enjoys the challenge and is often encouraged to be innovative and think out of the box to effect change and work efficiently.

Her experience as a woman within her field has been pleasant as physiotherapy is highly dominated by women. However, she feels that there is the possibility of women being limited and not accessing the same opportunities in certain areas within the field, especially in the area of sports physiotherapy. 

Zantsi believes that it is critical for women to join the STEM field to ensure “that this field and its innovative ideas and solutions are inclusive. It also creates incredible opportunities for other women to want to become involved, thereby not gatekeeping the STEM field and making progress.”

One of the highlights of her career was finding her passion within the space, through pursuing her master’s research in child amputees and also creating projects to assist in furthering the prosthetic and rehabilitation field, where there is a massive global gap of knowledge. 

Read more about this inspiring Geeky Girl, Siphosethu Zantsi as she rises to face challenges and to think of innovative solutions within the noble field of physiotherapy. 

1. Describe what your work entails.

As a physiotherapist working in the clinical setting, my work entails assessing and treating patients who have suffered injuries or have conditions that affect their movement and quality of life. I have experience in both the public and private sectors, managing patients with a variety of conditions. My work entails treating the following conditions: Orthopaedics, Neurology, Surgical, Medical, Paediatrics, Geriatrics and Women’s Health. 

Helping patients improve their functional abilities or adapting their function in order for them to regain as much independence as possible is key to my work. I also educate patients, assist with issuing appropriate assistive devices where necessary, and refer patients when their presentation is out of my scope.

2. Describe your STEM journey.

My journey in STEM has been very eye-opening. It has undoubtedly opened many opportunities for me, even in my very specific scope of practice. It has allowed me to be innovative and to be able to think out of the box in order to effect change or work efficiently in my work.

While the start might have been rocky, with a few doubts along the way, I am now very sure of the critical role STEM plays not only to an individual but in solving many of the ever-growing problems we face in our time.


3. What excites you about your job? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?

I am a very people-centred person, and my job involves working directly with people. So, the daily contact with people keeps me sane and allows me to stay in touch with my humanity. I enjoy being able to make a difference and helping people along the way. 

While the work can be gruelling with unpredictable occurrences along the way (hello, Covid), I enjoy the challenge. More especially, I enjoy job security.

4. How would you describe your experience as a woman in the STEM space?

My experience as a woman within my field of work has been very pleasant as the physiotherapy field is highly dominated by women. I can, however, see the possibility of limitation in some spaces within physiotherapy (especially sports physiotherapy), where women might not necessarily have an easier time accessing the same opportunities. 

5. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field?

Without a doubt, I would say go for it! The STEM field is such a critical one and women are essential in ensuring that this field and its innovative ideas and solutions are inclusive. It also creates incredible opportunities for other women to want to become involved, thereby not gatekeeping the STEM field and making progress.


6. As a STEM woman in Africa, how do you foresee the growth and progress of STEM on the continent? Is Africa a “land of opportunity”?

There is so much room for Africa to lead in the STEM field. From a medical perspective, we are head spearing research and innovations, which are assisting our already crippled healthcare system. 

I believe that there are so many more opportunities for innovation to improve the lives of people, solve critical issues, and put the continent at the forefront of STEM. 

7. Have there been any milestone moments or eureka moments in your career?

While being a physiotherapist has been my core work, I have not let one career choice define me. My biggest niche was finding my passion within the space. I am currently pursuing my master’s in child amputee research while creating projects that will help further the prosthetic and rehabilitation field. There is a massive gap not only in South Africa but globally within this field and I am excited to start playing a small part in building it up.

8. How do you maintain a work-life balance?

I would love to give the most balanced answer, but I am probably the most imbalanced person. I throw myself into too many tasks and often find myself overwhelmed with the day's requirements. However, I do have hobbies and interests that usually take up as a break from work. These would include taking walks or going for a run, or during the season, playing hockey.

I also enjoy being outdoors and exploring. My biggest lesson has been to make time, otherwise, burnout is inevitable. 


9. Who is your role model? Who inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by the people around me doing amazing things on a daily. However, my biggest inspiration is my grandfather, who is probably the most hardworking individual I have ever met, who besides the odds, has done incredibly.

10. Where can more information or insight into your work be found? 

I am currently working on my master’s research which I hope to publish. However, the work I did for my non-profit organisation, AMPEDZA, can be found on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, @ampedza.

A new project is coming this year and I am excited to share it soon.

Twitter Handle: @misszantsi

Additional optional questions:

1. How has the global pandemic affected you professionally/career? 

My work was directly involved with Covid. Being in the medical space, I was a part of the working group during the pandemic. 

2. If you have started a business or a non-profit organisation, what advice do you have for women aspiring to start a business or a non-profit organisation?

I would encourage anyone who has a heart for something and the passion to see it though to go for it! You will never know unless you start, and there is ample room to learn even more. My experience in the non-profit world was short-lived, but so incredibly eye-opening and created so many platforms to network and collaborate with other people striving to make a difference in the world.

Siphosethu Zantsi interviewed by Dhruti Dheda 

Dhruti Dheda is an engineer and PhD researcher with a focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Dheda has a strong interest in media and communication. She is the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality and the Track Lead and Regional Focal Point for Southern Africa of UNITE 2030. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at [email protected] or find her on Twitter @dhrutidd