Women in the developing world face great challenges breaking into IT and taking on leadership roles in the field – especially in news technology and design. Chicas Poderosas is addressing this challenge by helping to bring Latina women in the Americas into the forefront of digital journalism.
Created in 2013 by visual storyteller Mariana Santos as part of her ICFJ Knight Fellowship, the Chicas Poderosas movement aims to increase the number of Latina women working directly with newsroom technology. The goal: to create a corps of Latina digital media leaders who help to increase the diversity of voices in news.
With support from the Dow Jones Foundation, the Chicas Poderosas Fellowships program provides two women journalists working in Latin America with an exceptional opportunity to be embedded in highly digital newsrooms with strong, data-focused operations. The fellows, selected from among the Chicas Poderosas movement’s leaders (ambassadors), are paired with mentors in the host newsrooms for up to give weeks. In 2015, Santos named the first two fellows: Maria Paula Martinez, who was hosted for a month in Washington, D.C., by National Public Radio, and Mariana Barbosa, who was hosted for a month in New York by ProPublica.
Meet the Fellows
Maria Gabriela Brenes, fellow at The Wall Street Journal
Education: Licentiate in Social Communication Studies, specializing in Advertising and Public Opinion from the University of Buenos Aires in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Fellowship statement: “Unlike other professional experiences, the Chicas Poderosas Fellowship will allow to me to learn how might digital tools be used more effectually in journalism in a very collaborative and dynamic way. I love the way Chicas reinforces the importance of team work and I am sure this experience will help me discover amazing ways to tell stories. Becoming a Chicas Poderosas Fellow is for me like a dream come true, an experience that will make me stronger as a woman, journalist and teacher. I am very interested in the intersection of information, data, design and technology and I want to become a very ‘powerful’ woman in terms of creativity, innovation, tools and storytelling techniques.”
Mentor: Michelle LaRoche, Editor, Development, The Wall Street Journal
Sandra Barron, fellow at Guardian US
Education: M.A. in Design and Innovation from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico.
Fellowship statement: “As Judith Butler explains in Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?, journalism has the power to build a frame on which the world is seen. I believe there is a need to re-frame Mexican and Latin American journalism, not just in the matter of technology, data and media, but also in storytelling as a medium to create citizen based stories; human centered journalism I would dare to call it. During the last year, thanks to Mariana Santos, I’ve been able to work closely with journalists, presenting workshops about UX/UI best practices and civic tech product development based on design thinking methodology. This has been possible thanks to my professional background: a master's degree in Design and Innovation and a bachelor's degree in Visual Design and Communication. The fellowship at The Guardian will allow me to strength my storytelling capacities, the decisions on stories, the creation of journalistic media products, and the correct using of data to tell stories. Questions I would expect to answer after having this amazing experience at The Guardian would be: • How to use different media depending on the story? • How to choose media depending on the data? • Does the data tell the story or the other way around? • Is intermedia feasible to tell stories? • How do I decide between, audio, video, comic or infographics? • But mainly, how do I impact the lives of the Mexican audience?”
Mentor: Sasha Koren, Editor, Innovation Lab, Guardian US DocumentCloud
For the latest blog posts about Gaby’s and Sandra’s fellowships, check out the Chicas Poderosas home page.