Eva Longoria and women leaders in STEAM @google

Eva Longoria is right: Latinas are the future of tech

Yesterday, Wize Women visited Google for the launch of TECHNOLOchicas 2.0, a collaborative project with Televisa Foundation, NCWIT, the Eva Longoria Foundation, and others. The event highlighted career opportunities for Latinas in STEAM fields and featured 2 panels of professionals and students across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

This event was an amazing example of how intersectional feminism and great storytelling can address a major opportunity for the US technology industry and the country as a whole. This event helped to raise awareness about the many opportunities that young Latinas can pursue in technical fields. As a member of the audience, it felt like a glimpse into the future.

In the United States, Latinos are the fastest growing demographic. Latinas, specifically, will become the largest population in the United States and have a unique opportunity to also become this country’s most innovative and talented. Today 17% of Americans identify as Latina, and that number is expected to grow to 26% by 2050.

The tech industry is among the fastest-growing areas of the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tech will add 1.4 million new jobs by 2020. The challenge lies in how to fill those roles and ensure that a robust talent pipeline will sustain this long-term growth. This is where encouraging opportunities for young Latinas becomes a unique opportunity to uphold American leadership and innovation.

Right now, emerging tech hubs like Guadalajara offer a wealth of engineering talent and a way to outsmart the talent war in Silicon Valley, all while building entrepreneurial ecosystems and spurring local socio-economic growth. This approach to expanding the tech industry is vital and it’s one I care about considerably. However, it comes with two very real shortcomings: ecosystem-building doesn’t directly address the need to fill roles within the United States, nor does it improve the gender gap in STEAM professions in local hiring markets.

The TECHNOLOchicas event tackled these concerns head-on.

The event organizers did an amazing job capturing the promise of such an opportunity to employ more American women — specifically, women of color — in these high-growth fields. Most impressively, the people who participated in this event addressed the matrix of cultural and educational challenges hindering Latinas from becoming the most innovative population in the United States.

With potent storytelling from panelists across different STEAM professions, this event really did inspire actionable ways for Latinas to become the United States’ most innovative demographic.

TECHNOLOchicas 2.0 kicked off with remarks from Eva Longoria. She discussed the research she conducted for her Masters’ thesis, “Success STEMS From Diversity: The Value of Latinas in STEM Careers” and highlighted the importance of discussing college early in a child’s education. Then, she introduced the first panel of women executives to discuss how to encourage this next wave of leaders and innovators.

This panel of women executives discussed Latinas in STEAM. More than anything, this was a platform to share and celebrate everyone’s stories in the interest of inspiring the next generation of innovators to pursue opportunities in technical disciplines. Panelists represented organizations including mitú, Skillz, NCWIT, Iridescent, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Qualcomm. The panelists shared stories about how they chose their fields, discussed instances of sexism vs. racism in the workplace, and gave advice to an audience that included many elementary and middle school students.

Alejandro Villanueva, Executive Director of the Televisa Foundation, followed Longoria and emphasized the importance of communicating these STEAM success stories with a young audience. Villanueva previewed a new Televisa program geared towards this audience and introduced the next panel.

The second panel featured professionals and students alike and even included two very pregnant NASA engineers. It was an amazing display of how women in the workplace define success, explain how they achieved it, and pay it forward to younger women and girls.

My own career has been defined by women who pay it forward. Being able to see how a room full of industry leaders communicated their point of view in the interest of breaking barriers and spurring long-term growth opportunities was truly amazing. Best of all, it related to work I do every day with Wizeline, an intelligent technology company full of other tech-minded Latinas. It’s also a tech company rooted in Guadalajara, Mexico.

If you or your organization are interested in expanding opportunities for Latinos in tech, or creating a stronger workforce across STEAM fields, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.