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, eLaLa.com. #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 NewsTaco.com, 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 Sarainescalderon.com.

“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 WordPress.com.  Women also use more social media networks than men, according to Adweek.com.

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 lifescience.com. 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 www.internaldrive.com for more information.

By Maira Garcia

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By Christina Estrada

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