Latinas in Tech Break Through Barriers

Gretel Perera and Rocío Medina, Co-Founders of Latinas in Tech.  https://www.latinasintech.org/about/

Gretel Perera and Rocío Medina, Co-Founders of Latinas in Tech. https://www.latinasintech.org/about/

By EmployDiversity

Friends Gretel Perera and Rocío Medina are successful Latina technology leaders in their own right. 

Through relaxed meetups at local Happy Hours, they compared notes about the challenges and obstacles to attaining positions of great responsibility at leading tech companies. 

Based in Austin, Texas, Venezuelan-born Perera is the Director of Public Relations at Roku. San Francisco Bay area-based Rocio, born and raised in Mexico, is Director of Product Marketing at Prezi, a presentation software company. 

The women represent one of the founding ideals of Latinas in Tech, the networking, and resources organization they established for Hispanic women in the technology sector. 

“Most of us were born abroad,” Medina explained

“Most of us miss our culture, our people. These events are great because we sit face-to-face,” she added.

The fact that Hispanic women make up about one percent of all tech workers in the United States was not lost on the two leaders. 

As they informally talked more about the realities of being a Latina in the tech sector, they invited other Latinas who shared similar experiences to join them. 

In 2014, Gretel and Rocio hosted the first official Latinas in Tech meetup, in Redwood City, California. 

First Latinas in Tech Meetup (Redwood City, CA). “Our community has more than 2 thousand women working in tech, from more than 15 countries. 

In all the major companies, we have a presence. 

Women who are entrepreneurs, investors, marketing professionals, engineers, cybersecurity experts, etc.,’” Perera said.

By the end of 2018, the group had grown to more than 3,500 members. The non-profit corporation has chapters in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Mexico City. 

“In all the [tech] major companies, we have a presence. 

Women who are entrepreneurs, investors, marketing professionals, engineers, cybersecurity experts, etc.,’” Perera said.

Chapters host several events during the year. 

The three-year-old Austin chapter, for example, hosted three meetups in 2019, each of which focused on an aspect of professional life specific to Hispanic women. 

One meetup focused on building leadership skills, while another one took a look at what it titled “The Super Mama” Syndrome, a discussion about work/life balance. 

Perera said, “You have a different perspective you can bring to a company,” she said. “We want Latinas to learn how to package it and market themselves differently compared to someone who doesn’t have it.”

Perera explained about the organization that it offered three pillars of support to members: mentorships, professional development, and recruitment. 

Mentorships involved members helping members with expert support and advice. Meetups provided forums to develop the professional skills and resources to advance in a competitive sector like tech. 

The organization also supported Recruitment hubs for the likes of Facebook and other technology companies to meet, interview, and hire Latinas. 

The hubs provide a means for Hispanic women to shine in a way that would have been difficult in more conventional circumstances. 

Gretel said the hubs had afforded some of their members to be hired into organizations at higher levels than would have happened otherwise.  

So for Hispanic women in the tech sector who have been feeling isolated and stuck in their career tracks, know that through Latinas in Tech there are thousands of women who are just waiting to lend a helping hand and a supportive word.




RESOURCES:

5 tips from Latinas in Tech (VIDEO)

Latinas in Tech: Our Story (VIDEO)