Latinas can lead the way in tech innovation

Latinas, and Latina girls in particular, thrive when given access to and encouragement with technology.

Sara Inés Calderón | March 10, 2014 | 2:13 pm

Latina girls have the potential to make a huge dent in tech innovation, and their biggest obstacle often tends to be Internet access. A panel at South by Southwest, “Latinas As New Leaders in Tech Innovation,” discussed this phenomenon with three different Latina perspectives on the issue.

The panel included Laura Donnelly Gonzalez, founder of a Latina girls program, Latinitas, and Byrdie Franco-Rocha, who is the director for Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) chapter in Dallas. Rebecca Gonzales, Assistant Executive Director at AVINDĒ, a community-driven startup accelerator catering to women, moderated.

Donnelly Gonzalez mentioned that her program’s online magazine sees up to 20,000 hits a month, a testament to the power of Latinas in innovating the digital space when given the chance.

A survey of Latinitas participants that Donnelly Gonzalez shared found that most don’t have reliable, non-mobile Internet at home, but they are still “geeked out” when it comes to technology. She suggested that, in some measure, deprivation of technology spurs them to be bigger innovators.

Another interesting point of the study is that, due to lower rates of access, Latina girls seem to have missed out somewhat on the cyberbullying trend.

Franco-Rocha discussed an annual LATISM retreat she dubbed a “mini-MBA” to teach top Latino bloggers leadership skills. She said that women in particular share their skills with more people and tend to have a bigger impact when empowered with knowledge and technology.

A LATISM study 2010 surveyed 12,300 Latino bloggers and found that 61% use social media for personal purposes, but also social good, and many mentioned the “faith or power of blogging for social change.”

And while there are obstacles — just 2% of Latino startups receive venture capital funding, women of color are a rarity in the STEM fields, etc. — the panelists agreed that inroads are being made everyday.

About Sara Inés Calderón (183 Posts)

Sara Inés Calderón is a journalist and writer who lives between Texas and California. Follow her on Twitter @SaraChicaD.

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