This weekend I had the great honor of hosting the first ever Latinitas Future Chica Conference in Austin, Texas! On behalf of Latinitas and my fellow Committee Members, a huge thanks to everyone who attended and volunteered your efforts to make this year's event a success. Future Chica (futurechica.org) is a full-day conference for girls ages 9–18 designed to give girls the opportunity to explore their own innovative ideas through the latest 21st-century technologies including VR, 3D printing, drones, circuits, and more. A repost of my interview with Latinitas below - please reach out if you're interested in learning more or exploring volunteer opportunities together.
What got you interested in helping with the planning of Future Chica?
Growing up in South Texas, I had a few places where I could get experiential learning with media and technology in school. My hero was (and still is) my high school librarian who led the charge in digital literacy at our school and introduced me to academic research and grant work early on. It was only years later in graduate school that I realized how much her mentorship and this project had an impact on my young adult life. At the Future Chica Conference, I'm super excited to get girls engaged in 21st-century tech through hands-on demos, activities and design competitions! This is bound to be an experiential learning experience they will treasure for years to come.
What does "the future is chica" mean to you?
There is no doubt in my mind that the future is female. We're seeing record numbers of women graduating from college, marrying later in life, running for office (and winning), overachieving in almost every sector - I like to think that we're finally owning our power/agency. Yet, despite these monumental strides, only about 20% of tech jobs are held by women. Why is that? This is a multifaceted problem that needs to be tackled through various channels from partnering with employers to encouraging girls to major in STEM fields. I'm honored to partner with organizations like Latinitas that provide young Latina girls with the tools and mentorship to make the dream the reality. I know it can happen - just take a look at Katie Bouman's remarkable achievement at MIT producing the first-ever image of a black hole. The future is chica!
Why is it important to have diversity in innovation?
Diversity is a lot more than the color of your skin or gender - it's about coming together with unique strengths to find the best solution. To quote the formidable Dr. Mae Jemison - physician, engineer and the first black woman in space, “When people think about why it is important to have a diversity of talent in a field, they think of it as a nicety. No, it’s a necessity. We get better solutions.”
About the Future Chica Conference
This full-day conference took place at Oracle and participants spent the day exploring the latest technology through hands-on demos and activities while engaging with local tech professionals to inspire career exploration across technology, creative and design sectors. We invited the girls to showcase innovative product designs they have created with their newfound knowledge. Parents were invited to attend workshops in the morning and afternoon to learn how to support their daughters as they begin to develop an interest in STEM and college readiness. The event is sponsored by Rackspace, Silicon Labs, Applied Materials, Emerson, Dell, Atlassian, Cirrus Logic and Jacobs Group.
For 16 years, Latinitas, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has been empowering all girls to innovate through media and technology by providing direct digital media and technology training and esteem-boosting services to nearly 3,500 girls and teens across Texas annually. Founded by two journalism students fed up with the lack of representation of Latinas in media and technology industries, Latinitas presents enrichment programs at Texas schools, libraries, and community centers that use culture as a thread to teach web and graphic design, blogging, video and audio production, photography and of late: video game, app development, and coding.