Latinas have become a powerhouse in the field of tech. Now more than ever we are seeing a rise of Latina tech founders and innovators, despite Latinas only holding 2% of technology jobs, according to Forbes. These successful, driven Latinas are bringing much needed representation to the field of tech and showing other aspiring Latinas and young girls that they have a place in the world of STEM.
Today we’re shining a spotlight on a few Latina tech founders and innovators who are paving the way for future Latinas in tech.
Tanya Menendez is the Co-Founder and CEO of Snowball Wealth, a platform that provides personalized guidance to address money anxieties, pay off debt and build wealth. Through their tech and coaching they provide members with 1) a clear plan on how to get out of debt 2) the habits and mindset shifts they need to stay out of debt 3) a community to connect with others.
Tanya is passionate about helping people eliminate their debt and make smart money choices. One of the main focuses at Snowball Wealth is managing student loan debt. In a blog post on Medium, Tanya speaks about the Latina wage gap and offers some advice to students and career professionals.
To students she says, “When it comes to your student loans and debt in general — don’t make the mistake of paying the minimum and hoping it will go away. It’s best to take a proactive approach and see what your options are.”
To Latina professionals she advises, “Advocate for yourself at work. Keep track of your progress and what you’ve contributed to the team/organization and share this with your manager/boss. Your work will not speak for itself.”
Before Snowball, Menendez co-founded Maker’s Row, an online marketplace used by over 200,000 businesses that helps democratize American manufacturing. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she worked at Goldman Sachs and Google.
Tanya has been included in Forbes’ 30 Under 30, and has been named Business Insider’s Coolest People in Tech and one of PopMechanic’s 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream.
Tanya studied technology and its socioeconomic impacts on rural economies at UC San Diego.
Grecia Castaldi is the Program Manager for the Digital Community at Women Who Code, which helps empower and educate women with the tech skills they need for professional achievement. In her role Grecia is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech field.
“I believe that there is so much talent in Latin America, but sometimes women don’t get enough opportunities or don’t have role models in tech,” she said in an interview on Women Who Code’s blog.
She got her start with Women Who Code as a volunteer back in 2015 and soon became a Director before becoming Program Manager. Now she helps develop and guide local and global digital groups of women in tech.
Additionally she is a public speaker and helped develop WWCode CONNECT LATAM, a Spanish-only developer conference designed to empower diverse women across Latin America with inspiration and education to excel in technology careers.
To other Latinas aspiring to get into the tech field, Grecia says not to be scared of being the only woman in a team or a room. “Keep speaking loud about what [you] need so companies and teams can ensure a safe environment and an organizational culture that helps [you] keep growing and learning. Also, joining a community is always a good idea.”
Kristen Sonday is the Co-Founder, Paladin, an innovative platform helping to narrow the justice gap. Paladin is passionate about creating a positive impact in the world and envisions a world where everyone has access to legal and other vital services. Paladin helps provide equal access to justice through an online network connecting and tracking pro-bono programs within corporations with clients who need their assistance. It is one centralized platform that can be used to staff, manage, and follow the impact of pro-bono work.
After graduating from Princeton, Kristen joined the U.S. Department of Justice, where she worked on international criminal affairs in Mexico and Central America. These experiences motivated her to create Paladin. After witnessing the complexities of the U.S. justice system, she wanted to create a platform that would help the country’s most vulnerable find the resources and aid they need to seek justice.
Kristen is a Fellow for Stanford’s Latino Entrepreneur Leaders Program, and a Google for Entrepreneurs Code2040 Entrepreneur-in-Residence. She is also a 2017 ABA Woman in Tech to Watch as a result of her access to justice work through Paladin.
Nuria Santamaría Wolfe
Nuria Santamaría Wolfe is the CEO of Canticos – the first brand under the Encantos Media, PBC family of brands. Canticos is a bilingual children’s brand inspired by Latino nursery rhymes. Canticos creates books, apps, videos, and more with a focus on creative play to fosters child development.
“From the beginning, we wanted Encantos to be purpose-driven,” she said in an interview with Forbes. “We wanted to make media that matters, put creators first and tell stories for kids of all ages inspired by a world of cultures.”
“Given its focus on early childhood reading and nursery rhymes, Canticos supports early literacy and bilingual education programs and gives back to low-income communities through the donation of books and free apps to kids in need.”
To other Latinas looking to make a change in their career or start their own venture Nuria’s advice is to “Just start!”
“You will never find the perfect time. Don’t wait for the stars to align. Find a good moment and start to align the stars yourself. You are in control of your destiny. Get started today.”
Prior to co-founding Encantos Media, Nuria led Twitter’s Multicultural efforts in the United States. Nuria helped connect world-class brands with multicultural consumers leveraging the Twitter platform and its advertising products.
Nuria has worked at the intersection of digital media, marketing and technology for over a dozen years. She began her career in technology consulting at Accenture. Nuria graduated from Stanford University with degrees in Economics and Spanish.
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