Calling all Latinas!

Just like Wonder Woman who changes the world through creative problem solving, communication and teamwork, you too can become a Tech Super Hero by learning to CODE a computer.

Coding is one of the most in-demand skills today, with as many as 7 million job openings that require coding know-how. Additionally, computing skills are the most sought-after in the US job market, with demand growing 3X the national average, according to a report by Girls who Code and Accenture.

Yet women are sorely underrepresented in tech and are set to decline from 24 percent today to 22 percent by 2025. Moreover, Latinas make up just 2 percent of the STEM workforce in the United States, according to the National Science Foundation and Latinas in STEM.

That’s why community leaders throughout greater Los Angeles and the nation including organizations such as the Broadcom Foundation and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation are encouraging young Latinas to become Tech Super Heroes by trying their hand at coding. Through targeted programs designed specifically to spark and sustain girls’ interest and inspiring role models like Latina Tech Super Hero Jennifer Arguello who took her first steps into coding at just 6 years old and has been quoted as saying "nothing is impossible,” we aim to increase women, especially Latinas, in the STEM field.

"Our primary objective is to inspire young Latinas to be creators..."

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation promotes programs like the National Computer as a Second Language Initiative to enable youth to learn coding as an essential career skill, and there is an active movement to teach young women to code through outreach programs at colleges, universities and informal learning spaces.

Students from districts throughout the Southland, such as Compton, Lynwwod and Los Angeles are participating in Girls Maker Academies. "Our primary objective is to inspire young Latinas to be creators rather than just consumers of technology," says Leyla De Silva Riley, Director of Academic Innovation, Partnerships at the University of California, Irvine's Henry Samueli School of Engineering & Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and Executive Director of the OC STEM Initiative. "The weekend workshops empower 6th through 8th graders to become 21st century makers and designers who are proficient with 3D printers, laser cutters, computer aided design (CAD) software and industrial sewing machines. They are inspired to deepen their coding knowledge through summer programs like UCI's FABcamp."

Science museums are also offering coding experiences that can reach young Latinas. The Discovery Cube has launched Tech Camps to demonstrate coding concepts at both the Orange County and Los Angeles campuses using the Raspberry Pi – the super-tiny, super-inexpensive user-friendly computer invented by a Broadcom engineer.

Says Joe Adams, President of Discovery Cube, "We are emphasizing the “T” for Technology in STEM to make coding more approachable for our earliest learners."

Southland business professionals who code are encouraged to empower Latinas as future Tech Super Heroes by mentoring them through organizations such as the Leaders On Fast Track (LOFT) or Girls Scouts of Orange County.

CAPTION: Girl Scout Cadettes Genevieve and Natalie demonstrate how to track the time, temperature, and humidity using a Raspberry Pi in the “Build a Weather Station” activity at the Girl Scouts of Orange County demo table at the Raspberry Jam on June 21 at the Discovery Cube OC.

“Although more Latinas are learning to code at school or in after school programs, they can also try their hand at coding through kid-friendly, fun online applications,” says Paula Golden, President of the Broadcom Foundation. "In addition to programs such as Code.org and Scratch that teach kids foundational coding principles, there are exciting games like Wonder Woman by Google Play where kids help Wonder Woman fight the bad guys by using simple programming concepts."

With so many opportunities to acquire powerful coding skills, it's time to tap into community and online resources to become the next Latina Tech Super Hero.

“Latinas are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields that offer them unlimited career opportunities,” notes Carl McKinzie, trustee of the Riordan Foundation of Los Angeles and Broadcom Foundation based in Orange County, Calif.  “Learning to code opens the door to exciting and lucrative jobs in every imaginable occupation, from medicine and biotech to entertainment and fashion design. Your future will be WONDER-FUL!"