Tapping Women’s Passion for Technology in Latin American Newsrooms

Dec 22013

Chicas Poderosas [nid:47352] As interactive designer Mariana Santos prepared to introduce her project designed to bring more women into tech roles in news at a Hacks/Hackers Meetup in Santiago, Chile, the organizers warned her not to expect much of a turnout on a cold, wet night.

But instead of speaking to a handful of attendees, Santos addressed a packed university auditorium. She introduced "Chicas Poderosas" (“Powerful Women”) to 150 people who had braved the cold and rain to attend. What's more, 80 percent of the attendees were women. Over the next few days, Paz noticed a marked change in the Hacks/Hackers chapter: Before the meetup, there had been just 51 women in the chapter of about 500 members. After the meetup, there were 151.

The increase showed how hungry women in news are to learn tech skills. It’s this hunger that inspired Santos to launch Chicas Poderosas. An ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow, she previously did groundbreaking work as part of the interactive team at The Guardian in London (and was the team's only woman). The project is working across Latin America to promote the training and inclusion of women in technology fields, especially in the media.

Santos says the project's message is: "Lead me, follow me or get out of my way."

"Research shows women doubt their capabilities and fear failure more than men," she told IJNet. "So we create a place where there's no expectations, where we are all on the same page -- a group of people who want to learn and share an environment of openness with no judgment."

Since May, the movement to train, engage and inspire women journalists, designers, programmers and artists has reached Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica with workshops and opportunities for learning and networking.

Read the rest of the post on IJNet.