Latinas Leading the Way in Tech

It’s hard to believe that only three percent of professionals working in the tech industry are Hispanic. That’s counting men and women. There are even less Latinas in tech. Luckily, that is changing as more and more women are diving into the tech world. Here are some talented Latinas leading the way n the industry.

Maria Burns Ortiz

This digital journalist and entrepreneur wrote for and Fox News Latino and she started two startups. She is the co-founder of 7 Generation Games which is a video game company that makes engaging educational video games. She also created Evrybit—a storytelling app that allows the world to share all of the big and small stories from their lives.

Laura Sanchez LindaSanchez

Laura is the CEO of SWATware— an information technology company that helps other countries with their web and software development needs. She has taught Spanish-language workshops on tech and web development topics. In 2013, she was an honorable mention recipient for the Enterprising Women of the Year Awards by the Enterprising Women Magazine.

Laura Gomez

Laura worked for tech giants like Google, Twitter and Jawbone. She was the first Latina to work for Twitter and led the way in creating Twitter en Español and expanding Twitter to 50 other languages. She co-founded VYV that is hoping to make news information more accurate and diverse. She is an outspoken advocate for bringing more women into tech and leading the way for diversity in the industry.

Xeni Jardin

If there is someone who knows a lot about the tech industry, it is Xeni. She is often featured in magazines and broadcast television as a tech expert. Of course that knowledge doesn’t come from out of nowhere. She has spent years writing for Wired, the New York Times, and Boing Boing—a blog of which she is the co-editor.

Raquel Romano

This Ivy League graduate is a senior software engineer at Google that works on a crisis response team. After natural disasters, she steps in using different Google technologies to deliver resource and shelter information to emergency workers and victims. She’s like a superhero with a computer! Before she worked at Google she used her skills to do research about hurricanes and climate.

Daniela Perdomo

Daniela is the co-founder of goTenna—a really cool product that lets cellphones communicate even when there is no service. If that’s not cool enough, the company is using the technology to help people during disasters. They recently won a NYC grant that will give ten thousand small businesses that are in flood-prone zones goTennas for free so they can stay connected and keep us all updated during an emergency.

Liz Salcedo:

Liz started her career in social work and then had an idea for a tech product. Her phone was always dying and she saw a business opportunity in the solution. She created the Everpurse. It is a handbag that has a pocket that will charge your iPhone. Liz managed to mix fashion and technology into one idea. That just goes to show that a good idea can start anywhere.

No matter what interests you, you can find a tech job that will take your love to the next level. Whether you are into social media, inventing crazy gadgets, or helping the world around you, there is a job waiting for you to take it. These Latinas are leading the way into a more diverse tech world, and you can join them.

Cyber Code Twins

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cal State L.A.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cal State L.A.

The Latinitas team got the chance to interview América Lopez of Cyber Code Twins. Latinitas Co-Founder Laura Donnelly sat down with this computer programmer and rising technology maven at the Hispanicize Conference in Miami where America was being recognized for using her technological genius to empower her community. Read on for her inspiring conversation with Laura Donnelly.


America: Hello, my name is América and my twin [Penelope] and I are co-founders of Cyber Code Twins, which is a tech company that focuses on making communities safer through mobile apps and mobile technology. We are very engaged community activists and we are trying to help our communities become more involved in tech, so we are holding high-school workshops. Also, we are hosting hackathons, especially in East L.A. because that’s where we were born and raised. [Editors note: Hackathons are events in which programmers and designers collaborate on software projects.]


Latinitas: How old are you?
A: We’re both 24. But I’m five minutes older.


L: What did you have to do to get here? What kind of training? What kind of education?
A: I did not learn programming in high school, but I am trying to make a stand that you can start at any age. I’m a community college student, so a lot of community colleges want me to speak at their classes because I’m a good role model for their students. I’m also asked to speak at high schools because they’re like “Hey, you beat the system. We know how difficult that is. How did you get started?” I actually learned programming going to different hackathons. And then we started winning.


L: What were some of the goals that you had to achieve at these hackatons? Was it inventing an app?
: Yes, when we won it was for an app making vehicles safer. We made a jacket that uses proximity sensors that lets drivers know if they’re within three feet from motorcyclist wearing jacket. This ensures they obey the ‘three feet rule’ [California’s distance laws for cars passing motorcycles]. They really loved that. We won $9,000 for that one. Now in a January hackathon, we won $10,000. We made a smart body camera. So it’s a wearable camera that can be used not just by police, but by gas station attendants, because I really think it’s awful that CCTV [gas station surveillance camera] can not get a good angle of who committed the crime.


L: Why safety? Did someone introduce that concept to you?
A: No, it’s because in my neighborhood there have been a lot of shootings. Every couple of weeks there are shootings. It’s very active right now. And we’re very concerned, so that’s why we are trying to make community safer by making all these different types of technology, especially for vehicles sharing the road. We are motorcyclists and other vehicles really do not share the road! Our jackets will be flashing and they’re like why are your jackets flashing? And we’re like because you’re in our three feet zone! And we’ll yell at them.


L: That’s fantastic. So how do you guys split the workload? Is someone better at one thing? Is someone more visual…?
A: My twin is more spacial. I’m more linear. So I’m very super technical and she pulls me out of that when she needs to.


L: What about your parents? What do they think of all this?
A: It’s very funny because our parents thought we were going to nightclubs all the time, but we were just going to hackathons. So we would send them pictures of us programming with all the guys. And they were like “Oh there aren’t any other Latinas, but there a lot of guys. You sure you programming?”

But recently, after the big win at January’s hackathon, we got accepted to a Women in Tech start-up program in Silicone Valley and we realized there weren’t a lot of women in tech. It was a 2-week program and they helped me network, grow my skills, and think much, much bigger. And it made such a profound impact. We just finished the program a few weeks ago. And now our current company, Cyber Code Twins, we want to keep focusing on finishing our prototype and take it to the next level. Because usually at hackathons your prototype dies and nothing comes out of it. But at the workshop they told us: Finish it, get it out there!


L: So what do you guys do to relax?
A: Motorcycle riding, and we build drones and take them out with us when we ride and they follow us. Also 3D printing. And we are trying to get more into fashion tech because really for wearable tech in LA it has to be stylish.


L: So what does that look like when you envision it? What is wearable tech for you?
A: For me, it could be like a hat that has a UV sensor. If you’re going over your time it will send you a text or ring you your favorite song to remind you to put on your sunscreen.

Review: Child of Light

Child of Light is a video game following the journey of Aurora, a princesses trapped between fairy tale worlds because of a magic spell. Against the backdrop of a beautiful watercolor world and storybook rhyming dialogue, players guide the young but fierce warrior through the dark world she awakens in one day. This isn’t the story of a helpless damsel in distress.  Aurora fights the evil in Lemuria on her way back to her own home. Any fears she keeps at first disappear as she realizes that she is capable of more than she ever knew. Child of Light is a beautiful coming-of-age story that provides hours of fun and magic.

Basically, Child of Light is the story of Sleeping Beauty if the princess was actually fighting evil in her sleep. Aurora is the daughter of a king who marries an evil woman. One night Aurora falls ill and everyone believes that she has died. What no one knows is that she was actually transported to another world, Lemuria, by magic spell. Now she must bring peace to the new world in order to save the one she left behind. With nothing but her own bravery and the help of friends she makes along the way, she must become the hero that everyone needs. That includes super cool sword fights and learning how to fly. Surely that didn’t happen in Sleeping Beauty.

What makes this game even better, is that it is available for multiple devices including PC, Xbox, Playstation, and WiiU. It isn’t limited to owners of one gaming system, and each system is a slightly different experience. The main difference lies in the controls. The Wii U uses the gamepad. The computer version requires the use of the keyboard and the mouse or trackpad. There are two players to control—Aurora and her firefly friend. It takes a little getting used to the arrow keys and the mouse at the same time, but it becomes useful when you need to use the firefly to reach high places. Both characters jump and fly around Lemuria and battle foes they come across. The characters gain magic skills along the way that can be used to battle the bigger and badder monsters that come along.

Yes, monsters mean the game can be a little dark and scary at times. Some jump out of nowhere. Others fly at you when you least expect it. If you don’t want to engage in a battle with the monster, that’s were firefly comes in. Make him shine his light and blind the monster while you sneak past. Light defeats darkness. That is the central theme of the game. Light defeats monsters, restoring the stars saves the world, and Aurora’s pure heart guides her to destroy the hatred in the world she landed in. It is an age old story told once again in a beautiful and empowering new way.

Of course, the best part of this game is Aurora’s own personal journey as she discovers this power that good can hold. She begins her time in Lemuria alone and scared. She doesn’t know where she is going. Her main goal is figuring out how to get home. Except, when she is faced with a challenge she doesn’t run. She looks brave. She carries her sword with determination and faces the enemy head on. As the game progresses, she discover new skills with in herself that help her on her journey along the way. By the game’s end, she is saving not one world, but two. She has become a hero worthy of her royal title. The story of this young girl finding the strength and bravery to save her world makes this game unforgettable.

Women in Social Media


While there are girls who abuse use social media by posting inappropriate pictures and/or content of themselves just to receive “likes,” there are women who use this powerful tool to build their professional online presence.  With modern college courses like “social media journalism,” social networks like Twitter and Instagram are being used in positive ways to help women create a professional network. While these  fun platforms can  have a bad side, the following  women have used social media in a way that has positively influenced  those around them.

Angela Littlefield
Littlefield is a junior journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. While just a student, Littlefield does many things for her strengthens her journalism career now like by managing a fashion blog and being one of the first reporters for an online magazine called The Horn, where she contributes video content. She has attended red carpet events in Houston and has also covered various news-related events around Austin, as well. However, Littlefield uses social media to get the word out about her projects. Littlefield has her own Facebook page (Angela “S.” Littlefield) that keeps her followers updated on her current projects.

“Social media is powerful for men and women, you just have to be very careful how you use it,” Littlefield said. “I see some women who will post statuses or pictures just for male attention and get hundreds of likes but, deep down, how is that impacting the world or themselves?”

LaLa Castro

Castro is a mother, entrepreneur, technology enthusiast and an avid user of social media in a professional manner. She is the founder of #LatinaGeeks and her website, #LatinaGeeks is a “first-of-its-kind community to empower and inspire Latin women by spreading the knowledge of entrepreneurship, social media and technology.”

Her main goal is to break the stereotype that women are intimidated by technology. Her website and foundation’s main goal is to empower Latina women by informing them about entrepreneurship and the use of social media in a positive and professional way. Before founding these projects,  she owned and operated her custom-jewelry boutique that gained so much popularity,it received the attention of celebrities, which led to a partnership with Warner Bros. in the the film, Red Riding Hood.

Castro is very proud of her Latina heritage and embraces it. She says that it was because of her cultural background that she became a successful entrepreneur and social media expert. As a child, Castro had to go out and sell fruit door-to-door with her grandfather to make end’s meet. At a young age, she was already being exposed to entrepreneurship.

Sara Inés Calderón
Since 2009, Sara Inés Calderón has worked on several projects within the start up world and digital space. Founder of, Sara is an active blogger and creates a variety of content for “a variety of outlets, including TechCrunchPolitic365Pocho.comYouTube, and Latinopia, among others,” she shares on her website

“What’s truly surprised me with regard to News Taco is that my favorite part of the entire enterprise has been to promote other Latino writers and artists across the country. I thought I would enjoy writing and generating my own content, but what I’ve truly appreciated was being able to meet and work with Latina and Latino writers from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Arizona, Texas and everywhere in between.

There’s so much talent out there, and as I’ve begun working with all of these talented Latinos, I’ve realized that this is truly one of News Taco’s core values: to be a platform to promote Latinos across the country. Thus, the most rewarding part of generating my own media has been giving a voice to other Latinos who needed a platform and watching them grow as writers and in popularity,” shared Calderón in a 2011 interview with Latinitas.

Angela, LaLa, and Sara are only two of hundres, even thousands, of women using social media to not only inform their audience about their project, but to also inspire other women to use technology to further advance their careers. Users can check out different hashtags, like #LATISM, to enter a conversation about Hispanic issues.The #LATISM hashtag on Twitter links thousands of Latino/as together to trending topics in the Hispanic community. If you’re a blogger, then check out the blogs by Latinitas! Blogs by Latinas shares an online directory of Latina bloggers.


Demand for Latinas in Tech

Latina on ComputerThe evolution of how we communicate with people has passed all boundaries. From e-mail and social media, to online advertising. Today, people are taking in information in more creative and tech-friendly ways, especially the younger generation. The new media industry is growing, and in more dynamic ways than ever before. With this growth, many women of color are joining the new media force.

Sara Inés Calderón, digital media expert, stated, “It’s important to have women of color in all aspects of media — from production to marketing to creating to distribution to new media. So, having Latinas and other women of color participate in new media, especially when media in general is such a white male-dominated industry, is essential.”

According to Pew Hispanic, the digital divide between Latinos and whites is smaller than what it had been just a few years ago. For example, between 2009 and 2012, the percentage of Latino adults going online increased from 64% to 78%, while among whites it only increased by half as much. In fact, according to Nielsen Media Research, Latinos are especially active on social media and are rising in numbers – in 2012, Hispanics increased their visits to social networks/blogs by 14 percent compared to February 2011 and are the fastest U.S. ethnic group on Facebook and  Women also use more social media networks than men, according to

Social media and advertising provide an outlet to voice opinions at a much larger scale than one can do alone to a group of people. It also serves as a tool to connect with like-minded people who share your same interests. Brenda Salinas, Associate Producer for NPR Latino USA, stated, “Latinos use social media in more way than any other ethnic group. Social media helps communicate with family in other parts of the world. There is also a different relationship with people on Twitter vs. real life. Many of us are so used to being the only one in the room, and we don’t have that feeling on social media.”

“It’s revolutionary that the second I’m interested in something, I can get the information in seconds – 20 years ago, we couldn’t do that! You can instantly connect with people that have your same interests, without feeling alone. The fact that other people are like me, is very comfortable. You can connect with people who have shared your same cultural experiences,” continued Salinas.

No matter what career you decide to do, new media will almost always play a role, especially with the future of where our communications medium is going. Being able to write is one thing, but being able to engage effectively in real time conversation online and being able to code, are skills that take time to acquire. For many Latinas, new media has played a crucial role in their careers, especially when making a career jump.

According to writer Erika L. Sánchez, “Without new media, I never would have developed this kind of writing career. My career is completely dependent on the internet. I started off with a small blog and clawed my way up to large publications. I feel that new media has helped give many marginalized people a voice. Though not all outlets acknowledge our communities, many people have taken to Twitter, Tumblr, or blogs to express themselves and engage in important political discourse. In this way, media has become more democratic.”

“There is no such thing as a radio producer, you’re a multimedia producer.  If it airs once, you are wasting your time and only reaching a fraction of people you can be reaching.  To do social media well, you have to be ahead of the curve and do it right. Elements of storytelling don’t change, but social media always changes. It’s always on the go and a learning process,” stated Salinas.

“New media has played a significant part of my career. When I started my career I was writing newspaper articles, then we started adding a few blogs, and when the economy crashed I lost my job and started working at a digital new media startup. New media gave me an entirely new career and opened up a great number of doors for me,” stated Calderón.

With the digital sphere always moving, it is important to note that it is always a learning process and no one can learn at a blink of an eye. But starting now when you’re young and full of energy, will put you ahead of the curve and make you prepared for whatever the world throws at you!

The Evolution of The “Selfie”

411_DS6567214Through the evolution of the internet, the self-portrait became the fixed photo worth taking.  The photographic images change so much on social-networking sites that one photo of you is never enough for new eyes to rate.

An increasing number of posts on social networking ask other girls to “like their status” and get “rated.” To some, the higher the number means being physically beautiful. As intense as that sounds, social networking sites push many young people, namely girls, to post photos that mimic Andy Warhol’s representation of “Monroe.”

It is great to see young people trying the style of a contemporary artist, but when does it begin to cross the line of being obsessed with their looks?

The Self-Portrait and Social Networks: Just Like Marilyn?

The fact that girls mimic Andy Warhol’s representation of “Monroe” is not because that they’ve all become narcissistic, vain young people, but they want to feel like they too have symbolically interpreted their physical features with the same self-worth as Monroe did during her time.

Marisela Lariz, 20, says, “Girls put photos of themselves and their bodies because they see other prettier girls. They may feel insecure, when really they should feel confident to know that no one is better than anyone else. Everyone is different and beautiful in their own way.”

Girl’s photo representations are a form of Monroe’s continued living because she is remembered for loving herself as a full figured woman.

Yasmine Gonzalez, 17, says, “Some girls may think they’re ugly when they’re not. Every girl is beautiful. And I think they just say negative things about themselves because what others have said about them.”

Girls try to attain that same value Monroe achieved as a full figured woman, by creating multiple images of themselves in different poses in an effort to become like the iconic piece. Self-photos are normative. They place their heads, almost like a magazine advertisement does when trying to sell a product. These young girls begin to resemble their clothes, their half short shorts and their hair styles. Long gone are the images to show real life.

The Costs of Getting  ”Likes”

Does seeing so many young girls with the need to show their figure while they talk to, hang with, or even ignore someone else in the photo, make it sociologically corrupt?

Paola Hernandez, 13, exclaims, “Some people judge you on your clothes. The internet is sort of to blame. Some people are cyber bullies!”

For example, a piece created by Melissa Ventura, 15, shows her in colored images using ½ of the screen unlike that of Warhol’s piece, which uses the entire canvas.Ventura, says, “We had to do that for an Art Project.”

Gonzalez adds, “There [are] a lot of creepers on here who be trying to talk to people and say sweet stuff and pretend to be someone else and [eventually] meet up with the girl. Next thing you, know, that girl could be missing since she posted photos of herself. I see a lot of girls do that, I don’t like it. They want attention and are desperate for Facebook likes and that way can comment on how “sexy, hot, cute, pretty, etc.”

Joselin Garcia, 13 agrees. She says, “People on Facebook like or comment on their photos. It could be a reason why girls would be obsessed with their appearance.”

Gonzalez is quick to add, “Well I blame the Internet and the people. The Internet, because they don’t delete anything inappropriate that people post, they leave it there. And people, they shouldn’t even be posting stuff like that in the Internet.”
Still whether you agree or not, girls only become confident if the ability to become educated is instilled at a young age. Lariz says it best, “True confidence leaves no room for jealousy when you know you are great. There is no need to hate [on each other.]”

Texting in the Fast Lane

As technology becomes more closely tied to our daily lives, a growing problem for young drivers is using gadgets while behind the wheel. Cellphone texting is distracting and endangering the lives of its users. A group being seriously affected is teenage drivers who despite being new to driving are risking it all to send that “important” text message while on the road.

Most teens think that they are invincible. They have the attitude that it can happen to others, but not them. In my generation, we are completely overwhelmed with technology. It seems almost impossible to put your phone down to concentrate on one thing. One second you are glancing down at your phone rather than at road can change everything. Ignoring the warning signs and living in an “it could never happen to me” attitude, teens are often surprised at almost colliding with another vehicle when looking down at their cell phones for a split second.

A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 26% of all American teens 16-17 have texted while driving, and 43% have talked on a cell phone while driving. Texting while in the use of a moving vehicle has become one of the leading causes of death for people within the ages of sixteen to twenty, accounting for more than five thousand deaths each year according to a study reported by They also reported that another study done by the University of Utah, simulated young drivers texting while driving and found that they ran over virtual pedestrians, went in and out of their lane and were extremely distracted.

Several teens have told me their stories of near encounters because of using their phone while driving. Driving his vehicle on the Border Highway in West Texas, 17-year-old Luis Oliveros said he almost side-swiped another vehicle because he was checking his phone exiting the off-ramp. “I was driving on the highway and I took the exit off, but I was checking my phone at the same time,” said Luis. “When I got off the 375, I was going to switch lanes, but another car was coming that I hadn’t noticed because I was using my phone…I only noticed it because [the driver] honked and I swerved to my left to avoid hitting it.”

Rainelle Espinoza, age 17, almost fell victim to her distraction, while driving when she reached down to grab the cell phone she let slip from her hand. Her vehicle started to veer to the next lane, but Rainelle “quickly reacted” and was able continue her commute unharmed.

Many tales of “close call” exist for teens who decide to text message while behind the wheel. Amanda Guzman said her turning point came after a situation similar happened to her. “The fact that I had to slam on my brakes hard changed everything,” the 19-year-old said, adding that she’s trying to be a safer driver.

The split second it takes for a driver to take their eye of the road makes a drastic difference when looking at the statistics and research done. Driving demands responsibility, concentration and focus. To give the situation what it demands you can’t be doing anything other than driving. Remember no one is above this; everyone has the chances of being in an accident. You can help eliminate those chances by being a safe driver and not use your phone, mp3 player or have any other kind of distractions around while driving.

July 2010

iD Tech Camps Give You Skills

Technology camps aren’t just for kids who like to sit in front of computers all day. They show you lots of new tricks other than logging on to the Internet.

Programs like internalDrive Tech Camps, which hosts camps at universities around the country, provide courses on technology ranging from video game creation, digital video, computer programming, robotics and Macromedia Flash animation.

“We run tech camps at 40 locations in 19 states and in Spain, says Barbara Ruttiro, the marketing assistant of iD Tech Camps. “Kids can sign up for a variety of classes from programming to video editing.”

The summer camp program is open to anyone between the ages of 7 to 17. While technology camps may be thought of as a boy’s world, more and more girls are becoming tech savvy and joining in on the fun. Ruggiero fills us in on all our questions about camp.

What are iD tech camps?
It is a summer technology camp that runs in week-long segments where you can work with industry-standard products.

What do you do at camp?
It’s like traditional camp with a university and technology edge. You can sign up for a variety of classes and everyone creates their own project at the end of each week. You also get to play sports, card games, go bowling and a variety of other things.

Why are the camps held at universities?
We have a university setting because it pumps our students up for a higher education environment.

Who teaches the camps?
We have directors, assistant directors and instructors who are undergraduates or graduate students from the university hosting the camp. There are lots of female instructors and directors.

Do a lot of girls attend the camps?
We have a number of girls who go to the camps, especially in Spain. We do usually have more guys, but we have a place for girls to go do things that they love as well.

What do you learn from technology camp?
Students really like the games and surfing the Web, but they also get to see how games and sites are made. Our students are very smart and a few of them have gone on to start their own technology businesses or create their own games. They even help parents with creating Web sites.

The iD Tech Camps run throughout the summer in a variety of states, including in Texas at the University of Texas at Austin, University of Houston and Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Week-long day camp sessions start at $649, and there are several ways to save on tuition like family, university faculty and staff, referral and online registration discounts. Visit for more information.

By Maira Garcia

Top Gadget Gifts

  1. Digital Camera
    This gift is perfect for the family member who takes pictures at all family events or maybe for someone with an eye for photography!
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    This gift is great for the chatter-box of the family or maybe an older sister who needs an upgrade!
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By Christina Estrada

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