How one researcher is empowering young women to become the next generation of leaders in technology

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By: Guest contributor, Mon Feb 15 2021

Author: Guest contributor

Chicas en Tecnología was co-founded by Melina Masnatta in 2015 with the goal of reducing the gender gap in the technological entrepreneurial environment by motivating, training and mentoring young women in Argentina and other countries in Latin America. 

Over the past five years Chicas en Tecnología has seen over 7.200 women and girls participate in articulated initiatives and complete their training programmes, where they developed their confidence in STEAM* subjects and recognized that they are not related to gender. Over +1400 educators and teachers have been trained as ambassadors to eliminate gender biases and encourage the participation of girls and women in their classrooms. 

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Initiatives started by Chicas en Tecnología have reached more than 60,000 people from different fields:  families, educators, mentors, entrepreneurs and decision-makers,  who have joined together to address the challenge of reducing the gender gap in technological and entrepreneurial environments

In this interview she tells us about herself and her motivation for starting Chicas en Tecnología.

When and why did you found Chicas en Tecnología?

Data consistently show that women feel they are not qualified to apply for certain jobs to use technology and digital resources, and they see themselves as less capable in science-related areas than men, regardless of whether they are equally competent or have better academic performance.

After working in technology inclusion programmes throughout the country for over a decade, I started to research the cultural barriers and gender stereotypes and biases that underlie the career choices women make. I discovered that women are multiplying agents, who together with the right tools and support, can train the next generation of women to innovate in technology. We formed Chicas en Tecnología to create programmes, clubs and workshops that empower young women to become the next generation of leaders in technology.

Was there a science teacher at school who particularly inspired you?

My high school biology teacher was an inspiration to me. I grew up in Patagonia and his classes were always linked to the environment nearby. He did a great job connecting complex concepts with my immediate reality.

Why did you choose to pursue the educational sciences?

Being able to use data to explain reality through experimentation and methodologies was exciting for me. I especially liked that this work had a social impact. The educational sciences bring a scientific approach to a social field that can change people’s lives.

Tell us about someone who inspired you early in your research career

One of my greatest inspirations was Edith Litwin, who was a forerunner in educational technology in Argentina and Latin America. She promoted unprecedented access to university education by designing distance courses and training. As part of her work she created numerous programmes including for the largest public university in Argentina.

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

What is urgent should never surpass what is important. This advice was given by my first boss and I always try to keep this in mind - especially in times of the pandemic.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
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Patience. Everything comes to you at one point or another. It’s just important not to forget and enjoy the journey.

What goal would you most like to accomplish?

I would really like to see gender equality in our region and in the STEM ecosystem. The current gender gap is reduced by encouraging, training and supporting the next generation of women leaders, those who are currently children and teenagers. My dream is for everyone in society to recognise this potential in the girls in our communities.

*STEAM refers to the areas of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.

Learn more about the Nature Research Awards for Inspiring and Innovating Science (2021 applications open in April)

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About Melina Masnatta, Executive Director, Chicas en Tecnología

Melina Masnatta is a social entrepreneur with a background in educational science. She grew up in Playa Unión, a small town in Patagonia with a diverse population including indigenous groups. The daughter of a doctor and teacher, Melina was inspired by science from a young age. 

When she was eight years old she formed an ecological cleaning crew who cleaned the coast and the streets of Playa Unión every Sunday and alerted the authorities when she found penguins or whales stranded due to oil. Her social entrepreneurship projects have taken her all around Argentina and abroad.


Author: Guest contributor

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