Today, Latin American women are achieving great personal milestones. From being the first woman to graduate from law school to becoming the first Latina to run for public office, a generation of Latin American women are shaping their own futures. But for decades, Latin American women have been under-represented in the world of specifically male-oriented fields like business and politics. While the challenges facing women in their home countries and abroad continue to exist, the opportunities for Latin American women are also expanding. With the advancement of women-friendly laws, more women are entering the workforce and taking up leadership roles. As an ecosystem of media and technology is emerging, women in Latin America are branching out of traditional boundaries and creating their own spaces to share their unique perspectives.
Why is Latin America so male-dominated in the tech space?
One of the most important factors that shaped the success of the region’s tech scene was the construction of the Panama Canal. When finished in 1914, the canal was one of the most ambitious engineering projects in human history, and it allowed international trade to expand at a record pace. However, the region’s leading tech companies have largely been male-dominated, and much of the gain has gone to Western Europe and the United States. The result has been a lagging Latin American tech scene with relatively few female-owned tech companies. The situation has improved further in the past decade, with the rise of female-founded and -led companies, and the start of a few successful startups by women. But even then, entrenched cultural and economic factors remain obstacles for female tech leaders.
The rise of online influencers in Latin America
Latin American social media influencers have been making waves for a while. With over 100 million followers across multiple social media platforms, many people in the region have become known for their online presence. Mexican actress and singer Selena Quintanilla, for example, is best known for her Twitter account, which boasts over 131 million followers. Mexican pop star Luis Miguel is another popular social media presence in the region, with over 28 million followers. Mexican journalist and author Isabel Allende is another well-known social media figure in the country, with over 6 million followers on her account. Brazil’s Selma Sobral, meanwhile, has become well known for her Forbes cover shoot, which has received over 1.5 million views on Facebook. Instagram influencers are also a major presence in the region, with well over 100 million followers around the world.
World-renown Latina feminist Gloria Tarlac
Latin American feminists haveLong been trailblazers in the fight for women’s rights. During the 1960s, they led the way in the Americas in the enactment of landmark laws protecting the rights of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Latin American feminists also pushed for the end of the genocide against indigenous people and women’s suffrage during the 1930s and ’40s—two of the most successful political movements in the region.
But the most impactful Latin American feminist movement of all time was undoubtedly the Mexican feminist movement of the ’20s and ’30s. Led by the Revolución Mexicana, or Mexican Revolt, the movement sought to emancipate Mexican women from traditional roles and social customs. Afterward, the Mexican government honored the women’s movement as one of its greatest achievements, and the term “revolta feminina” or “feminist revolt” became synonymous with women’s rights in Mexico.
Today, Mexican feminists continue their fight for social justice and human rights, and many credit them with inspiring movements in the United States. During the 1960s and ’70s, the Mexican feminist movement was perhaps the most vocal in the Western world in opposing the war in Vietnam, which claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people.
Latinas and the Internet
In many Latin American countries, Internet service is only available to a select few. This often includes government representatives, corporations with foreign operations, and the wealthy. But for many Latinas, the Internet is a source of empowerment. Through social media, the platforms help them connect with other like-minded Latinas and gain a voice that was previously unavailable to them in media and political spaces.
With over 2 billion users across the globe, Latinas have become online influencers in record time. Social media outlets have created spaces for Latinas where they can be heard and seen. On YouTube, for example, people can watch videos about fashion, beauty, and food, among other topics. On Instagram, users can find fashion, beauty, and food rants, and on Twitter, they can follow Latinas who are active on the platform.
Latinas in the workforce
Latinas are making strides in the workforce as well. For example, in the past decade, there has been a 50% increase in the number of Mexican women who have entered the workforce. This number is expected to rise even further with the implementation of a new law next year that will increase the minimum age for employees to 30.
As more Latinas enter the workforce, the opportunities for leadership will continue to increase. It’s possible that in the future, more Latinas will run for political office than any other group of people in the region.
Latinas in tech
The number of women entering technology programs has grown rapidly in the past few years. The number of women who have completed degrees in computer science in the region is growing, too. This is a direct result of the number of Latinas entering the workforce and the increasing numbers of job openings in the sector.
With more Latinas entering tech programs, there is even more potential for collaboration among the community. For example, during the last few years, there has been a rising trend of sharing and bonding among female students. Meet-ups, dinners, and social gatherings are common among Latina students, and they have created communities where they can share experiences and learn from other like-minded people.
It’s important for girls to gain exposure to technology early. The earlier they learn how to use computers, the more accessible and valuable that technology will be in the years to come.
The future of online influencers in Latin America
As the region’s tech scene continues to grow, it will be even more important for women to be present in the room when ideas and innovation are discussed. As with any creative field, great ideas typically come from small groups of people working together. If women are not present in those small groups, they will not be given the opportunity to contribute.
As computers become more accessible to the general public, it will be even more important for women to learn how to use them. This will also be good for the development of Latin American computer programming and the creation of new technologies.