Women may make up the majority of online users, trendsetters, and consumers, but we have a long way to go to reach proportionate amounts in the field of technology. Women account for only 5% of tech engineers and startup founders and represent 12% of all computer science graduates. Latinas are even less represented with only .03% of Latina freshmen majoring in computer science in 2006. Despite the low numbers, we tracked down 25 Latinas changing the face of technology and inspiring others to do the same.
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Laura I. Gomez
Entrepreneur and the Founder
A founding member of Twitter, this savvy mexicana was the social network’s very first Latina. Gomez spearheaded Twitter en Español and led the massive expansion of tweets in nearly 50 languages. Gomez got her start at YouTube, where her interest in social media grew, then moved on to Google. She spread her wings as founder and CEO of Digital Playbook, a multi-faceted startup focused on innovative product strategies for Spanish-speaking clients.
After graduating with a degree in computer science from Georgia Tech, the California-based techie led the speech recognition experience team for Kinect and Surface as product manager for Microsoft before becoming the product lead at Disney Social Game. She recently co-founded FunLoop, which makes digital toys and games for kids on phones and tablets, with fellow former game developers.
An IT architect by trade, the self-described bilingual Latina (in case her name fooled you) has spent 15 years helping various nonprofits and brands (everyone from Home Depot and Disneyland Parks to Cover Girl and Toma Leche) boost their campaigns through social media and tech engineering. The tech savvy mom, who also codes, is co-founder of Latina Mom Bloggers and Inland Moms.
Natalia Oberti Noguera
Founder and CEO
The Pipeline Fellowship
The half-Colombian, half-Italian innovator founded the Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women philanthropists to increase diversity and create capital for women social entrepreneurs. “I was invited to judge a tech startup demo and judges were asked to sit in the front row. A guy told the guy next to him — loud enough for me to hear, however not directly addressing me — ‘I thought only judges were supposed to sit in the front.’ I turned around and said, ‘What makes you think we’re not judges? Because we’re women?’ My approach is to call out -isms. As a queer Latina, it can get tiring.”
Senior Software Engineer
This MIT and Harvard graduate works on the Google crisis response team to make information available as quickly as possible after a natural disaster. Using the same Google infrastructure and technology behind Search, Earth and Maps, Romano and her team deliver up-to-the-minute information about power outages, shelter locations and water deliveries to victims and first-responders. Wow!
Senior Lead Developer
The Salvadoran American coder develops and manages the Voto Latino site, ensuring Maria Teresa Kumar and Rosario Dawson's mission to engage Latino voters goes viral. “Latinas are a huge target group of consumers in the tech world. It baffles me that we’re not behind-the-scenes more. It’s still a male-dominated field. We need to make computer science part of the curriculum in schools.”
Intel Mask Operations
This industrial engineer was born in the Dominican Republic, raised in the Bronx and moved to San Francisco to plan production facilities and determine the most efficient sequence of operations and workflow for Intel. Ramirez is passionate about empowering Latinos and serves as president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers' Silicon Valley Professional Chapter.
Diana Albarrán Chicas
Sr. Antenna Electrical RE
Space Systems Loral
With a title like that, it’s no wonder Chicas works at the leading provider of geostationary commercial satellites, which builds and integrates some of the world’s most powerful and complex satellites and spacecraft systems. She also co-founded Empowering Education, which provides professional learning and consultation services for educators, families, and community agencies.
Ileana M. Rivera
With an engineering degree from the University of Puerto Rico and master’s in information systems from the University of San Francisco under her belt, Rivera has been voted ‘100 Most Influential Hispanics in Information Technology’ three years in a row. As the director of IT for Cisco, she’s responsible for managing all IT-related client interactions to the overall user community in Latin America. She also sits on the board of the Hispanic IT Executive Council.
Ana Roca Castro
The founder of #LATISM (Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media), Castro started her career at Columbia University where she managed technical projects for the School of Public Health. She then moved on to the UN, where she led the implementation of Oracle systems. In 2007, she started Premier Transmedia to help businesses and organizations achieve their objectives via state-of-the-art transmedia development.
Owner & CEO
Delivering Business Technology Solutions
Born in El Salvador, this IT specialist designs information systems specially tailored to fit the business models for a broad variety of clients as owner and CEO of Washington DC’s Delivering Business Technology Solutions.
Alicia Abella, Ph.D
Executive Director of Innovative Services Research
An advocate of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers for young Latinas, Dr. Abella is committed to changing the status quo for women and people of color in the field. At AT&T Labs, she manages a group of multi-disciplinary technical staff specializing in data mining, user interfaces, IPTV, mobile services, SIP/VoIP technology. How did she get here? A Ph.D. in computer science from Columbia University, a M.S. in computer science from Columbia University, and a B.S. in computer science from New York University didn’t hurt.
Latino Startup Alliance
This California native with dual citizenship in Costa Rica and the U.S., started programming by accident at 6. She’s since worked for tech companies big and small, including working on the first Xbox Kinect device. In 2011, Argüello co-founded Latino Startup Alliance to promote and cultivate a tech entrepreneurial spirit in the Latino community. A lifetime member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, she mentors high school girls enrolled in Technovation Challenge, sits on the alumni advisory board for the Computer Science and Engineering Department at UC San Diego, and is an active member of Latinas in Computing.
Co-Founder, COO & CFO
In addition to founding Gizmo, a cloud-based multichannel marketing platform for mobile, tablet, social, and web, Castaneda co-founded a few stealth-mode startups and is currently a sales planner at online advertising company RadiumOne Inc.
Maria Garcia Smith
Founder & CEO
This Peruvian know-it-all holds an M.B.A. and master’s in information technologies and founded the B2B/B2C bilingual social engagement and marketing platform Blitz.
Co-Founder & President
The Mexican American San Jose native was the first in her family to go to college and credits a mentor for helping her graduate while working a part-time job. She managed to get into medical school, but had a change of heart half way through when she decided to pursue education. She created StudentMentor.org, an innovative national mentoring program based on a pioneering technology platform that helps college students find and collaborate with mentors from diverse industries and professions to achieve their academic and career goals.
Founder & CTO
A Java programmer for over 15 years, Alline founded LiveSource to show non-techies how to develop a domain-specific, ubiquitous language and how to use code as the central source to improve communication for the whole team.
Dr. Patty Lopez
Latinas in Computing
A passionate advocate of STEM, Dr. Lopez holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in computer science and is committed to creating an inclusive organizational culture in the workplace. She spent 19 years as an imaging scientist for Hewlett Packard and founded Latinas in Computing, a grassroots organization whose mission to promote and develop Latinas in technology.
Patt Romero Cronin
IBM Global Services
This Salvadoran and Guatemalan whiz initially wanted to be a dentist, but started working at IBM on a fluke: her sister worked there and she happened to go to her office to pick up keys and was offered a job. She has a B.S. and MBA in computer science and is responsible for transforming the way IBM delivers services globally, managing delivery centers in India, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Malaysia. In 1999, she was appointed VP of Olympic Technology Integration for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and was responsible for the development of 13 million lines of computer code to ensure that the games went smoothly.
Founder & Chief Technology Mom
The Online Mom
Vila has 15 years experience in consumer technology and is passionate about creating tech savvy communities and empowering families to make good decisions about their use of technology. She founded The Online Mom to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. From tackling cyberbullying to providing information on the latest in tech hardware for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, Vila’s a pro.
Blanca Stella Mejia
A social media consultant and digital community builder for corporate executives, small business and individuals, Mejia founded LATISM Award-winning bilingual blog MiCaminar.com. She is a community manager for Socl, Microsoft’s creative research project by FUSE labs.
Founder and CEO
No. 8 Media
The Cali native knows about struggle. After her father lost his job, her brother died of malnutrition. As a result, she was put in foster care with her sister. She beat the odds, got into Stanford, and went on to attend law school. After working in venture capital and corporate law, she decided to be her own boss. She founded Consorte Media, Inc., a digital media company focused on the Latino market that was acquired by Audience Science. She since founded No. 8 Media, Inc., an early stage consumer product development company that created Refleta.com and the iPhone app gottaFeeling.
Silicon Validation Engineer
The Puerto Rican computer science major received a master’s from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor before working for Intel as a senior engineer. She joined Apple in 2013 and gives back to her community as a mentor for girls pursuing careers in STEM.