Latina Engineers Looking to Defy Odds and Increase their Numbers in Tech Industry
Latina engineers have been having an uphill battle when it comes to succeeding in the tech industry. Only 13 percent of U.S. engineering jobs are held by women, and an even smaller percentage by Latinas. According to the latest report by the National Science Foundation, only two percent of employed engineers are Hispanic women. The lack of diversity in the tech world has made headlines and raised questions about the lack of gender representation in the tech industry. Cecilia Aragón, the first Latina full professor at the School of Engineering at the University of Washington, states:
We have a lot more work to do. It is difficult being a Latina and a woman in a field that is predominantly white and male. But we are making inroads. I feel this obligation to mentor younger Latinas. There are so many things that can be learned from talking to a more senior person in the field. I would often feel uncomfortable. Maybe I am not cut out to be a woman in technology. But then, in speaking with a senior woman it made me realize that it was not me.
Aragón believes that more funding is needed, specifically for Latina technologists, and an increase in opportunities for one-on-one mentorship, which is vital. Programs like The Grace Hopper Celebration and the scholarships offered by AnitaB.org are making a big difference in the lives of young Latina engineers. More than 18,000 women in tech were expected to gather at this year’s celebration in Orlando. Blakeley Hoffman, a master’s student at the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, advises young Latina engineers not to be intimidated and to ask for help from their peers, adding that it is never too late to learn. More diversity is needed in the tech industry and little by little the diversity will continue to increase.