Punto Final: By Rocío Medina Van Nierop CEO & Co-founder at Latinas in Tech

Representation in Tech Matters

By Rocío Medina Van Nierop CEO & Co-founder at Latinas in Tech

Every single day during the last 15 years of my life, I have been wondering why Latinas are largely absent from an industry that I work in and that I also admire and enjoy navigating: The Tech Industry.

What is the evidence for that feeling? Latinx occupy three percent of Tech leadership roles, and only a third of those are Latinas. Based on our data, seven of every 10 Latinas who join Tech leave the industry earlier than their non-Latinx peers.

I have come to realize that there are several reasons why we are not getting to the top at the same rate. Some of the reasons, significant ones, are outside our control, at least in the short term. For example, Latinas represent a substantial portion of so-called contingent workers in Tech. These are workers who are not directly employed by the Tech companies themselves and therefore they are greatly affected by a lack of benefits, lack of career security, etc. Contingent workers were the first to go when layoffs happened, as we witnessed through the pandemic. There are Tech companies that host about 40 percent of their workforce in this format. Changing the dynamic between Tech companies and contingent workers is possible but requires changes in employment law – not a short-term solution.

The good news is that great opportunities for us to shape our present and future in tech exist today, and are within our control. Those opportunities lie in tackling topics such as fear of failure, imposter syndrome, venturing into moonshot technologies, getting your voices heard, negotiating more effectively, and the list goes on and on.

That is why we, Latinas in Tech, exist as an organization.

Let me highlight a few facts about the members of Latinas in Tech, which show the great challenge our community faces and the attractive opportunity it can translate into.

The Latinas in Tech population is a very highly skilled workforce. Our latest research show that 90 percent of Latinas have a Bachelor’s degree or above. Sixty-five percent have more than five years of experience, and yet, more than 50 percent work in entry-level positions or low-level individual contributor positions. That doesn’t make any sense, but it is the sad truth.

Don’t get me wrong, companies must do something about unlocking the growth potential in their existing Latinx workforce. But first and foremost, I want to urge Latinas to speak up and ask for that raise or that promotion. We expect that if we do a great job, someone will tap on our shoulders, offering a promotion or a performance raise. But more often than not, that is not how the system works. I asked over 100 Latinas if they have asked for a raise in the last 12 months, and only a handful said yes. Our recruiters calculated that about 90 percent of raises were asked for rather than given. By not asking, we leave an opportunity on the table that others are picking up more efficiently, and our culture and gender might play a huge role. That behavior contributes to the problem, and it is something we can fix tomorrow. We already have the NO. All we need to do is ASK.

We need to consciously get out of our comfort zone and have our voices heard, demand what is right, and focus on shining and climbing that corporate ladder.

Our group began in Silicon Valley in 2014 and has since expanded to 20 additional cities with a local footprint worldwide.

Our mission is ambitious, just like our members: we seek to reshape the tech industry so that Latinx women are not only well-represented but also thriving in the ecosystem.

Today we help almost 20,000 Latinas around the world. Last year, we experienced hypergrowth because of the pandemic’s remote nature forced on us. Our member base grew a staggering 77 percent. Our organization also grew internationally from 11 to 20 chapters across six different countries. In 2021, we ran a total of 80 events, allowing us to touch 38 percent more lives compared to the prior year, all of them absolutely free to all of our members and allies.

For more information or to donate to our non-profit, please visit www.latinasintech.org.

 

Rocío M. Van Nierop is the CEO and Co-Founder of Latinas in Tech. Van Nierop has been an advocate for tech inclusion, participating in multiple boards of charitable organizations that push forward the participation of underrepresented minorities. Besides Latinas in Tech, Rocio has co-founded Silicon Valley Day – a conference that brings the best minds of Silicon Valley to multiple cities and countries in Latin America, helped start Red Global de Talentos Mexicanos in San Francisco, as well as the EXATEC alumni group in San Francisco, and Rocío serves as an advisor to the cultural festival MEXAM in San Francisco.
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