04 Dec Creating Opportunities, Empowering Girls
Over the past couple of decades Austin has become a growing hub for media and tech start-up companies. Meanwhile, job opportunities are popping up for millennials to become involved in these flourishing industries. However, these jobs are not easily accessible for everyone in Austin. Although Latin@s make up almost 40% of the city’s population, this demographic is not reflected in the employment in media and tech companies.
Historically, Latin@ folks, and specifically Latinas have been underrepresented in the tech and media industries. One group looking to change this is Latinitas. Since its inception in 2002, this non-profit has sought out to empower young Latinas in East and South Austin through media and technology. Today, Latinitas runs 19 after school clubs focused on exposing young girls of color to different careers in media, technology, and STEM. The girls gain hands-on experience with projects related to about various topics such as filmmaking, journalism, photography, computer science, just to name a few. The club curriculum also places a strong emphasis on culture and celebrating what it means to be a young woman.
Latinitas was founded to help combat the crippling statistics that our Latina youth face. According to the census data, Latinas are the leading group for teen pregnancy rates, school drop-out rates and substance abuse rates. Meanwhile, in lower income schools in East and South Austin, where a majority of Latinas attend school, most students do not have easy access to technology, which puts them at a disadvantage, as they are growing up in a city with a booming tech industry. Latinitas seeks to provide Latinas with educational opportunities so that one day they may become the next generation of media and technology industry leaders.
For the past year, I have been working with Latinitas as a Club Leader as well as a general volunteer. Through my experiences, I can say with all sincerity that the impact this work has on girls is invaluable. Being able to use my privilege and education has allowed me to share my passion for media with young girls who do not have the same opportunities that I did. It is truly inspiring to work with a group of young women who dream big, seek out opportunities for themselves. Thanks to organizations like Latinitas, we can continue to work towards creating more inclusive and diverse industries that celebrate people of all backgrounds and identities.
Written by Gabriela Gonzalez