If you ask young Latinas if there are social issues in their community that are not addressed sufficiently in the mainstream media or that they think are urgent to spread more awareness about, they will most likely present you with a long list of topics ranging from misrepresentation, discrimination and cyber-bullying to sexism, teen pregnancy and racism.
So how can these young ladies with tons of ideas and concerns actually make their voices heard and do something about these issues? Well, actually they have more options than what it might seem like. And this was exactly the topic to be explored during Latinitas’ 1st Annual TECH Chica girls’ conference on October 6, 2012, at ACC Eastview Campus in Austin. This conference was presented on the occasion of Hispanic Heritage Month.
More than 60 girls ages 9-18 participated in Social Media, Blogging and PSA/Podcast workshops in which they created social media campaigns for good. The girls came up with important issues around which they would create their campaigns, and professionals from the media and technology field facilitated the workshops.
One group worked around the problem of bullying. In the Blogging workshop a girl wrote clearly:
Bullying needs to stop now. It messes with feelings
Another girl, from a group that addressed the issue of bullying of people with disabilities, wrote:
Bullying is not cool at all and it needs to stop!! Peoplle kill themselfs just for geting bullyd. It dosen’t matter if people are diffrent. We all dont’t have to be the same.
Caroline M.’s group created a campaign focused on feminism and gender inequality, and she stated that:
I think we should stand up for ourselves more often because if we don’t we will be looked downn as minors and they would boss us around. (…) We woman and girls deserve to be treated equally.
A girl from the same group had experienced gender inequality in person:
My grandma always gives more money to my older cousin than me and my sisters .I always ask my self WHY?!
One of the teen groups focused on the issue of teen pregnancy, and Thelma, one of the participants, pointed out an important question in her blog:
Why were you with me before and not after? (…) There should not be a baby with out there 2 parents. Two people made them two people should take care of them.
On Latinitas’ own social networking site, MyLatinitas, you can read all the blogs posted by the TECH Chica participants on October 6.
During lunch, four successful women from the media and technology field presented at the panel: Women Who Lead and
Succeed. Evelyn Castillo, Editor of Latinometro, Alexandra Landeros, Writer for Latinometro and Austin Post, Ana Villegas, Dell Marketing Director, and Crestina Chavez, Managing Editor at YNN. T hey talked about how they use social media and new technology in their daily work and they answered questions from the girls about everything from career goals and path to life/work balance and income.
At the end of the day the results of the girls’ hard work were presented to everyone: 6 PSA’s over 3 important issues: Bullying, Gender Stereotypes and Teen Pregnancy. See all the videos on the following links:
Fight Bullying – By “Group Onderful”
Stop Bullying – By “Group Onderful”
Preventing Teen Pregnancy – By Group 3
Preventing Teen Pregnancy 2 – By Group 3
Stop Sexist Stereotypes – By “Group Awesome”
Stop Stereotypes – By “Group Awesome”
All in all this conference was a great success. Among the comments in the participating girls’ evaluations was that they appreciated the panel’s advice, they loved shooting video and using computers, they liked learning about how to blog and use social media in a useful way, they were inspired to become journalists and leaders, and they made new friends. Many of the girls even stated that they will start their own blog after this conference.