Latina women join forces to increase their presence in Silicon Valley

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  • Mon, 12/03/2018 - 16:15
Latina women join forces to increase their presence in Silicon Valley
  • Kikovic/iStock

By Marc Arcas

Latinas have historically had little representation in technology industry, something that is gradually changing thanks to the work of organizations like "Latinas in Tech", dedicated to increasing opportunities for this group in Silicon Valley.

The entity founded in 2014 by the entrepreneurs Gretel Perera and Rocío Medina has more than 3,000 associates representing more than 40 leading technology companies in twenty different countries.

“Since  childhood there are stereotypes that make women less motivated to enter the world of technology than men," Perera told Efe as one of the possible explanations for the absence of Latinas in Silicon Valley.

"When we started four years ago, I was recently moved to the San Francisco Bay area from Venezuela, and I saw that it was necessary to create a community of Latinas to learn from each other and create connections. This is what Latinas in Tech do,'" she said.

In the majority of large technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, and according to data provided by them, women represent less than 35% of employees, and Latinos of both sexes rarely exceed 10% of the total staff, which makes Latina women doubly underrepresented.

"We are a sleeping giant in the technology sector; we are seeing incredible achievements in recent times, but there is still a lot of work to be done," Marisa Moret, head of public policy for Airbnb and member of "Latinas in Tech", told Efe.

According to Moret, the purchasing power of Latinas is increasing in the country and throughout the world, so that as time goes by "companies will realize that they need among their workforce workers who know and represent the tastes and slants of their clients".

"Latinas in Tech" holds every year in San Francisco (California) a meeting attended by engineers, cybersecurity experts, entrepreneurs, investors and data scientists from virtually all Spanish-speaking countries and Brazil.

Among its associates, the organization has employees and management positions of companies such as Apple, Airbnb, Bumble, Cisco, Dell, Dropbox, eBay, Facebook, Google, IBM, Indeed, Lyft, MasterCard, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, Paypal, Salesforce , Tesla, Twitter, Uber, Visa and Yahoo.

"Although we are still less than we should be, Latinas have more and more weight in the technology sector and this is due to an increase in awareness that we bring new and important ideas," said Paola Santana, founder and CEO of the "start-up" Social Glass.

"Seven years ago, when I arrived in Silicon Valley, I was the only woman in the Dominican Republic working here in the technology industry, and now, almost every day, I find out that there is a Latina who has formed a 'start-up' or is investing in technology," the Dominican entrepreneur told Efe.

According to Santana, one of the main added values that Hispanic women bring to the technology sector is a change of mentality: "Latinas believe that social problems must be addressed from a non-profit perspective, not with the sole goal of making money," she stressed.

Thus, she cited the example of a Nicaraguan entrepreneur who has started the first service of shared cars for them driven exclusively by women in Nicaragua.

"The reason is a chauvinist culture in the country that makes many men be aggressive with women and thus they feel intimidated, leading to a specific market for drivers in which customers feel safe," she said. 


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