A Spotlight on Latinas in Tech
Latinas paving the way.
So, a few months back I wrote an angry post about being the only Latina in my department and how seriously depressing it was. Well, is. I then entered this self journey. Looking for others like me, that can relate to me. It first started in September. I volunteered to be a chaperone for a T.E.C.(Technology, Engineering, Computer Science) Girls conference. I truly didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but instantly I felt like the universe had placed me right where I needed to be.
The conference started with guest speaker, Gabriela Gonzalez, Deputy Director at Intel. Finally, A LATINA! At Intel! BAD-ASS! I could cry, literally. She inspired me so much and from that day I knew I had to give back to my community. I can no longer write angry posts and complain about there not being enough Latinas in tech when I’m not making a difference. So, my first step into mentorship was starting a Girls Who Code club at the school I work in. This is was transforming. I couldn’t believe that I was making such a difference and teaching girls (& boys) computer science and exposing them to potential careers in tech.
I then attended a Lean In event. I attended it by myself. As soon as I walked in, I became instantly anxious and was seconds from turning around and going home. But can you believe that the Lean In event partnered with a company called SEI which was charging an entrance fee, and the proceeds were going to Girls Who Code? So I felt like it was my duty to stay. People started talking to me and I even met someone who was interested in mentoring young girls. Again, the universe placed me right where I needed to be. We exchanged information and we are currently planning an event.
Then, the universe was in my favor (again) and so was Twitter. I came across an organization called Technolochicas. A group of Latinas who have careers in Technology and aim to close the gender/race gap in the industry. I signed up! A few weeks later, the organization posted a search for a technolochica ambassador who was available to participate in a panel in Phoenix. (Deep gasp) I couldn’t believe it, finally it was my opportunity. Just like Gabriela, I now had to stand up and share my story.
So I replied. And they added me not only to the panel but to the agenda. That was a pretty big deal to me. I screenshot it and sent it to my entire family. As a Latina would. I practiced my Spanish for weeks. Mind you, Spanish is my first language. I was restless and sweating on the way there. And by there, I mean Univision. Yes! The technolochica event was partnering with the news channel Univision. I literally grew up watching Univision with my family — religiously. As many Latin’s do. So now I’m in the building, star-struck and secretly praying no one talks to me. But as soon as I seen the students, it all felt right. I sat on the panel and we all took turns speaking. I didn’t speak as much but I made it a point to let the students know that “initially when you begin your career, you won’t know much. But it’s important to read, learn and practice. Eventually you will be a master in your craft. But we all fail, learn from it and get back up.” After the panel, someone walks through the door to speak to us. Would you believe me if I told you it was Gabriela Gonzalez? From the event I went to in September and mentioned above! I couldn’t believe it. She was so nice and literally was telling us about the mentorship events she was part of and was seeking volunteers. I’m sure you already know, I signed up!
I’m oh so so so very grateful for all these opportunities coming my way. So while there is still 1 Latina in a department of 13, I still aim to fix that, but now I have a network of women I can bring on over. But most importantly, I hope to see these young Latinas join me at the table and make the decisions of the future.
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