Mar 1, 2022 - Technology

Teaching the next tech Latino titans

Illustration of a raised fist clutching a computer mouse.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

From camps for girls to networking events for grownups, organizations all over the country are working to promote Latinos in tech.

Why it matters: The numbers of Latinos and Latinas in the industry has been rising gradually in the past few years, but they're still disproportionately low in most companies.

  • Latinos are also increasingly important on the consumer side — Nielsen reports they are “at the forefront of technology adoption,” buying up new tech and spending more time than peers on platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp or Discord.

The big picture: Several initiatives are working to bolster Latinos in the tech industry.

  • Latinitas is an organization that teaches children and teens coding, how to design devices, entrepreneurship and more through after-school programs and camps.
  • Techquería, another nonprofit, helps Latinos network and share job postings and has over 18,000 members.
  • Latinas in Tech works with Silicon Valley companies to promote diverse recruitment. It also spotlights Latina entrepreneurs and gives workshops to over 20,000 members to incentivize founding start-ups, asking for raises or applying for promotions.

By the numbers: In 2021, Hispanics made up a small share of Google (8.8%), Netflix (8.6%), Apple (8%), Microsoft (7%) and Meta/Facebook (6.5%) tech workers.

  • The numbers are even lower for women: Latinas are 2.5% of the workforce at Google while Black women are 3.4%.

What they’re saying: “We have a running list with over 200 Latina tech founders, proving there are many of us even if in percentages or proportion the numbers are low,” Rocío Medina van Nierop, co-founder of Latinas in Tech, told Axios Latino. “Change is coming slowly, but it is happening.”

Between the lines: Part of the problem is that Latino and Black participation in STEM degrees remains low.

  • But experts tell Axios Latino that hiring practices are also to blame: “There’s an implicit bias where recruiters don’t look for or hire Latinos — let alone Latinas — even if they have the same qualifications,” Medina said.
  • Medina told Axios Latino another problem is Latinos “are sometimes hired but not paid the same or just brought on as contractors as opposed to other workers getting full benefits employee jobs.”
  • Companies also have lower retention numbers for non-white and non-Asian tech workers, possibly because of discrimination.
  • In a recent survey from tech education company mThree, 77% of women of color in the industry said they had been made to feel uncomfortable because of their ethnicity.
  • That number was 69% for all Latino respondents and 81% for all Black workers surveyed.

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