Can You Picture the New Face of Innovation?

Latinas Think BigOver 300 can, and they came together or joined a national conversation via social media to talk about it last week. On Friday, October 3rd, Google hosted an event at their headquarters called the Latinas Think Big Innovation Summit – a day jam packed with workshops and panels all tailored around the current and future state of Latinas in STEM. It was a bold move for Google, but also a very strategic one considering their recent backlash regarding their lack of diversity. This comes less than one month after announcing a 200k donation to Black Girls Code – in hopes of increasing their diverse pipeline of underrepresented girls. The biggest announcement, or news to me, came from Google with their new domain - .soy - which means “I am” in Spanish. Not sure how long that had been out for - but its a first for me.

As the host, Google also made this event available online by livestreaming it. Over 300 women attended, many with graduate degrees, as well as young women still in their high school and undergraduate studies. Out of these 300 women, about 44% worked in technology. Google’s Head of Multicultural Marketing, Eliana Murillo, stated innovation demands a healthy disrespect for the impossible. I agree with her – especially because a little over 2 years ago, the number of women obtaining graduate degrees exceeded the number of men. I believe increase in education is also correlated with earning potential and buying power. There is no question why anyone would not want to tap into this growing market. Many industries and companies are catching the drift, and trying to identify ways of capitalizing on the booming Latino market.

This event was organized by Angelica Perez Litwin, PhD, of Dominican descent. I highlighted some of her ventures before, but I'll do it again because they need to be mentioned: ELLA Institute, New Latina, Latinas Think Big, and the Latina Leadership Network Facebook group. She created Latinas Think Big to 'showcase the innovative ideas, talents and groundbreaking projects of Latinas' in this country.' She aspires to bring talented Latinas and thought leaders to the stages of top companies and universities around the country. As we watch her vision come to fruition, I also hope we are able to see the role of Latinas in the media change - maybe one day we'll be more than just a sexy character that speaks with a funny accent...that's me dreaming big!

The purpose of bringing together these women from all walks of life is to encourage more young women to pursue careers in STEM, by seeing a mentor at one of these events. I was hoping to attend this event but was traveling for about 2 weeks already so I stayed to catch up with work. I look forward to connecting with Angelica though - I'm sure I can learn a lot from her, and help her with her mission.

Google is paving the path for other companies to follow suit and invest in tomorrow’s leaders using today’s diversity. Other sponsors include Wells Fargo, Ford, Verizon, Chevrolet, Kapor Center for Social Impact, Farmers Insurance, Boden PR, and the Ivy League Project.

The social media campaign around this event was very effective. On twitter people were tagging @ThinkBigSummit, @google, as well as hashtagging #newfaceofinnovatio and #latinasthinkbig. Participants were also encouraged to partake in the conversation via Google+. If you only look at the positive PR that Google obtained from this event – I think you’d agree that it was a success. Kudos to everyone behind the scenes that made this event a success and to everyone who attended or watched online. May Latinas, and those around them, continue pushing them to think big - I know I will :)