March 22, 2022

Nasa, Google, Stripe, Netflix: Meet The Most Influential Hispanic Women In The World Of Tech

Globally, women in tech make up about 28.8% of the tech workforce as of 2020.  While this number is an increase from 25.9% in 2018 and 26.2% in 2019, reports still show it could take 12 years for women to have equal representation in tech. In Africa, it will take even longer.

Some members of the Latino and Hispanic communities have long held prominent positions in the world’s largest technology companies, and it’s no surprise because of the talent they possess. But Hispanic women reportedly tend to have a more negative experience with workplace DEI efforts, possibly because many say the planning of such training and other programs falls to them. 

That’s according to a recent report in 2021 from Kanarys, a platform that measures DEI efforts, and Prospanica, the Association of Hispanic MBAs and Business Professionals. The report examined diversity and inclusion trends for Hispanic workers across the US. 

About two-thirds of Hispanic professionals said they feel burdened with having to educate colleagues on DEI, the report revealed. Although most said their company’s efforts to provide DEI training were laudable, much of the planning for the training and other DEI programs is put on them, even when it has no relation to their job or expertise.

Below we have listed four influential Hispanic women absolutely killing it in the industry and paving the way for others.

María Teresa Arnal (Stripe)

Arnal has held important positions in companies such as Google and Microsoft, and her current position involves heading the Latin American division of Stripe, an online payment-processing firm for companies that operate online. The executive emphasizes the importance of motivating girls to be curious about science and problem-solving.

Previously asked about her childhood, she said: “I grew up in a traditional family, most of them are engineers. My parents loved art in all its expressions. Since I was little I was a curious, restless, and a bit rebellious girl since sometimes I broke the typical rules that were imposed on me at school, such as keeping my skirt and socks at a certain height and wearing my hair well, but I loved learning and going to the school. 

“I studied at a convent school, it was hard for me to adapt to their ideology of life, where women always have to give in everything and managerial positions are only for men.I have always been very structured, mathematical and logical and for that reason I decided to study industrial engineering at the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Venezuela and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Columbia University . 

‘I worked in a consulting company, a completely different turn to my career, which gave me the expertise to connect industries, analyze problems and understand them. Then I came to Mexico, where I have been for 21 years, I arrived when the Internet was beginning to revolutionize and everything began to change. There I realized that people did not know how to take advantage of digital tools and there was very little professionalism in the digital industry.’

Paula Bellizia (Ebanx)

Bellizia, who has also worked at Microsoft, previously held the position of vice president of marketing for Latin America at Google. One of her objectives was to support the digital transformation of the region.

But Brazilian payments FinTech Ebanx named the former Google executive to serve as its new president of global payments earlier this year.

“We are so pleased by the arrival of Paula, who will help us level up at a significant moment in the history of Ebanx, the payments industry at large, and the global digital market,” said Ebanx co-founder and CEO Joao del Valle.

With more than 29 years of experience, Bellizia will focus on further expanding the range of EBANX services used by giants of the digital economy around the world. Prior to Google, she held high-level executive positions at companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Facebook. Now, at EBANX, she will focus on growing the fintech’s global customer portfolio and consolidating the company’s brand – recently reinforced by bringing in Alexandre Dinkelmann as CFO in 2021.

The daughter of Portuguese immigrants who lived in Angola and moved to Brazil when she was three years old, Bellizia’s personal and professional history is deeply connected with diversity. She was one of four women in a class of 40 students in the Data Processing and Computer Science major at Unesp, in São Paulo, where she graduated in the 1990s. She began her career at Whirlpool.

María Ferreras (Netflix)

As Global Head of Partnerships, Maria Ferreras oversees all partnerships for Netflix. She previously served as Vice President, Business Development for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Prior to joining Netflix in 2017, she worked at Google for 10 years as Director of Partnerships for YouTube for Southern Europe and Emerging Markets.

In this role, Maria was responsible for shaping and growing the YouTube partnership ecosystem in key markets and looking after the content strategy for direct partners. She has also served in a number of leadership and senior management roles for multinational companies such as Lycos, Orange and Telecom Italia. Maria holds a master’s degree in Telecom Engineering and a postgraduate in Marketing. She has also served on the academic board of The Valley, an innovative digital business school.

Diana Trujillo (NASA)

Diana Trujillo, an aerospace engineer, is currently Technical Group Supervisor for Sequence Planning and Execution and a Tactical Mission Lead for the Mars Perseverance rover.

Born and raised in Colombia, Trujillo immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17 to pursue her dream of working for NASA. While enrolled in English-as-a-second-language courses, she also worked full time to support her studies in community college and later the University of Florida and University of Maryland.

She has held several roles for NASA and JPL, including Mars Curiosity rover mission lead, deputy project system engineer, and Deputy Team Chief of Engineering Operations on Curiosity. Trujillo has also been active in sharing the excitement and opportunities of STEM with the public. She co-created and hosted #JuntosPerseveramos, NASA’s first-ever Spanish-language live broadcast of a planetary landing, for Perseverance’s arrival on Mars, which attracted millions of viewers worldwide.

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Abbianca Makoni

Abbianca Makoni is a content executive and writer at POCIT! She has years of experience reporting on critical issues affecting diverse communities around the globe.