Tech Tuesday: A Call for Latinos in Innovation Fields

Guest post by Eva Smith (@Eva_Smith)

In the second State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama laid out his plan for the future. The President highlighted research, education, technology and infrastructure as pivotal to progress in the United States. Analysts have narrowed it down to just one word, Innovation.

A national call for additional innovation professionals in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields has been made. However, the number of Latinos in the STEM fields is vastly under-represented. Latinos are also under-engaged in the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) fields.

According to report commissioned by the Latino Technology Alliance in 2007, Latinos are vastly underrepresented in Technology. Latinos were employed in only 5.5% of information technology jobs nationally and only 5.8% of key non-IT high technology jobs. Fewer Latinos than Whites pursue self-employment in science, technology, engineering and math fields, due, in part, the low rates and small numbers of Latinos achieving bachelors, masters, or doctorates in STEM fields. Latinos also remain stranded outside the mainstream due to cycle of poverty, poor educational performance, and limited employment opportunities that characterize many Latino communities.

Additional report key findings indicate that Latino entrepreneurs in technology believe most venture capital is concentrated on the nation’s two coasts, especially the west coast. Latinos are also under-represented in new high technology ventures. In addition, there is not a critical class of innovators and investors to support the rapid growth of Latino-led high technology ventures that serve that market.

In order to successfully increase the number of Latino-origin innovators in STEM fields the report recommends an educational system geared to increase awareness early on. The survey also suggests that more organizations are needed to serve as a conduit between venture capitalists focused on Latino markets and entrepreneurs willing to take on the risk for potential long-term rewards. To stimulate the growth and development of new products, services and markets, organizations and state and local development agencies and area and Latino chambers of commerce should convene and regularly host Latino networking gatherings and inventor/innovator forums, and should develop and maintain intelligence on Latino markets in the U.S. and in Latin America.

Expanding community college research opportunities for Latino students are essential to broadening their participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the latest report from the Center for Urban Education’s three-year study documenting the institutional pathways Latinos take in earning STEM baccalaureates. There is also an infusion of new federal monies – $100 million annually through 2019 – is slated to increase degree attainment in STEM fields at HSIs.

The opportunities for Latinos in Technology are greater today than ever before. The increase in Latinos usage of Internet, Social Media and smartphone technology has opened many opportunities for Latinos to tap into STEM innovation fields. Bilingual U.S. Latinos can also leverage their cultural understanding and communication skills to create and grow businesses in emerging foreign and domestic high technology and service markets. As a strong voice in the Latino-sphere we also need to recognize fellow Latinos at the ôbleeding edgeö of business and scientific and technological innovation.

Latino Technology Alliance
The Center for Urban Education’s three-year study

Let’s talk about Latinos in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM):
Do you agree with the survey?
Where are all the Latinos in STEM fields using New Media?
How will you use New Media to contribute to awareness for additional Latinos In STEM fields?

Eva Smith is a Team Lead – Principal Engineer for a major Telecommunications company.  Her blog, Tech.Food.Life, highlights products, news & events about Technology, Food & Lifestyle.  She promotes events that support the advancement of Women, Education & New Media.  She is a Latino2 Ambassador and volunteers with Department of Education & AVID programs.

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    Ana Gonzales Lewis 9 years ago

    Beautiful job, Eva! I have been in technology for 16 years, and every time I have been to a conference (for technology, or even minorities) I have been the oldest, brownest, female in my area of expertise.

    You open up the opportunities with your message and remind all of us that we CAN be engineers, business owners and mathematicians – and bust out of stereotypes. I love it.

    Thank you!

    Tony Vargas 9 years ago

    Tremendous piece, Eva! As a Latino technologist & engineer, this article energizes me to go out and recruit others! 🙂

    Thank you for putting the time and effort into organizing & presenting this information as expertly as you’ve done here!

    jesseluna 9 years ago

    The issues with Latinos in technology start at birth and go on to the highest of business levels. If there are no Latinos or Latino advocates at the top of the tech pyramid, then there will be less incentive to reach out to us and include us in leadership positions. In college, if there are no programs or role models to help guide Latinos then we are less likely to continue on tech paths. In grammar school and high school, if there are no teachers and relevant learning materials then our interests go elsewhere. If we don’t have resources at home then it’s more difficult for parents to shape a path to a technology career. If mass media doesn’t portray us at all in technology fields then we have less inclination/motivation to go in that direction.

    I’ve been fortunate to have had guidance and support from many sources (both Latinos and non Latinos) at every level, but it is still difficult to create a path to success. One entity, one person, one agency can’t do it alone. It takes a community of knowledgeable and caring people and entities to help.

    I offer my support and guidance to anyone who is looking to advance in science and technology.

    AnaRC 9 years ago

    Great post Eva. You are so right! This is the best time for Latinos to get into technology. Let’s keep pushing. Si se puede

    Eva Smith™ 9 years ago

    I agree Jesse! You and Ana were my inspiration for this post. I admire the work both of you have done as Entrepreneurs. Like you, I have the opportunity to have mentors come along side me to give me guidance and inspiration.

    Eva Smith™ 9 years ago

    Thank you Tony! Great idea Tony on recruit others to pursue Technology related fields.

    Eva Smith™ 9 years ago

    Thank you Ana. I can relate to your experience at conferences. Hoping 2011 will be the year that we make a difference.

    Eva Smith™ 9 years ago

    Thank you Ana. You are definitely one of the Innovators that are paving the way. You are an inspiration to many people including me. Rock on mi hermana!

    AnaRC 9 years ago

    Thank you mi hermana! I must admit that as a child nobody ever talked to me about technology or the potential opportunities. I discovered my “inner geek” when I was asked to be the subject matter expert for staff development at the United Nations since none of my colleagues would dare take it. I loved the task so much and did it so well that they sent me to study engineer and then asked me to lead the Oracle implementation for the organization. I felt in love with technology since then. However I feel that I wasted a lot of time before that. We must help our young Latino(a)s fall in love with technology and the creativity in innovation as early as possible.

    AnaRC 9 years ago

    Same here! I’m usually one of 9/10 women and 99.9% of the times the only Latina. Not good at all. Thank you Ana and Eva for starting to change that by leading this conversation. This is the start of a Tech Revolución!

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