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A screenshot of Prospanica's Philadelphia chapter's webinar.

How Latinas can navigate the tech industry

In a Zoom webinar hosted by Prospanica Philadelphia on Aug. 3, 2022, experienced Latinas in tech spoke about their experiences to guide other Latinas in tech.

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On Aug. 3, 2022 Prospanica’s Philadelphia chapter held a panel about Latinas in tech, hosting three Latina women who have had years of experience within the industry.

The webinar hosted Edith Perez, the Senior Technical Product Manager at Comcast; Sól Vázquez, CISA and Senior IT Audit Manager at CVS Health; Shannon Morales, CEO and founder of Tribaja, a diversity focused tech recruitment agency; and was moderated by Carrie Ann Zayas Quintana, Enterprise Innovation, Manager of External Partnerships at PNC.

Prospanica, an organization that hosts annual career and professional development seminars and aids Hispanics in networking, hosted the four of them to discuss their experiences, careers, and insights they could offer Latina’s entering the tech industry.

For some of these women, they didn’t start their careers in technology. For Vázquez, she began college pursuing a degree in accounting. But when she took an auditing course, she realized it suited her much better and changed her major.

In a similar vein, Morales completed her degree in Finance before she moved into the tech sector.

For Morales, a background in Finance was not a barrier to overcome as she entered the tech industry. As she sought to boost other Hispanics’ networking opportunities, she sought to found her own company. With experience in business and financial matters, she was able to use her skills to create her company, Tribaja.

Skills outside of technology can play an unexpectedly beneficial role in those fields. Project management skills, for example, are necessary as tech teams try to move their projects forward.

Another frequent subject that came up was the importance of networking. For Perez, when she moved to Philadelphia to work with Comcast she had to rebuild her network of people she could rely on. When she arrived, she sought out engineering and Hispanic groups within the city and joined them to have a support network, both professionally and personally.

Morales’ method of digital networking was to use messaging apps like Slack and Discord to connect with different people and groups.

The need for Latinas and other Hispanic tech professionals to network is because of the lack of diversity in these fields.

Perez could recount experiences where a team she was on was composed of people who were all older, more experienced, and better paid than she was and told her they wouldn’t follow her lead. In another situation, her manager consistently scrutinized and challenged her plans and designs. In both cases, she was a Latina in a white male dominated space.

Morales offers advice for Latinas pushing through difficult situations: despite how scary it can be to be the only Latina in the room, you are the one paving the way for others to follow after you.

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