Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

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Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

By ABC News Radio

Former WNBA player Niesha Butler has opened the first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp, S.T.E.A.M. Champs, in New York City to reduce accessibility barriers to tech educational resources for Brooklyn youth.

“If a kid could actually say that they can be LeBron James, and roll it off their tongue as easy as that, then they can literally say ‘yeah, I can also put a man on the moon,’ or ‘I can also create the next app,'” Butler told ABC News.

Butler, a New York City native, says “there’s talent in Brooklyn.” She established S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Champs in the middle of Brooklyn to encourage inner-city youth to channel their ambition into educational opportunities. Butler also hires interns, may of whom have tried coding for the first time with the program, she says.

“People sell basketball dreams every other second in our community. I thought it was really important to, let’s sell these tech dreams,” Butler said.

Prior to opening her doors in Brooklyn, Butler partnered with organizations like Girl Scouts, BronxWorks and a local AAU basketball team to host STEM-focused workshops reaching over 300 New York City students. Monday was the first day of camp in the newly opened facility.

“There’s not a lot of people of color in tech,” Butler said. “These jobs are open for everybody and they’re empty…so obviously we need to do a better job at educating our kids and in recruiting them.”

Other tech education camps and workshops across the nation have worked to close the gap and make tech careers interesting and accessible to students of underserved communities.

Black Girls CODE is one of those resources providing workshops and public speaking opportunities for Black girls. Program alumni Kimora Oliver and Azure Butler say that the program’s first chapter in California’s Bay Area created an environment that allowed local Black female students to envision themselves in the tech industry.

“Unfortunately, STEM is a white and male dominated field,” Oliver told ABC News. “I feel like [Black Girls CODE] is giving a diverse group of Black girls the exposure that they need to decide for themselves whether they want to continue with STEM in the future.”

For almost 40 years, another program called Academically Interest Minds (AIM) at Kettering University has tailored its pre-college curriculum to expose youth of color to STEM coursework and campus life.

“49% of African American students who attend Kettering University now, are AIM graduates,” Ricky D. Brown, the university’s director of multicultural student initiatives and the AIM program, told ABC News.

For many, STEM educational resources introduce an element of choice in considering STEM and exploring pathways of academic interests.

A study released in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that early intervention programs like S.T.E.A.M Champs, AIM and Black Girls CODE are effective in helping students achieve academic success in higher education and STEM majors.

“Some of these kids don’t have a computer at home to study,” Butler said. “When I go to some of these centers, they don’t have good Wi-Fi…they have outdated computers.”

According to the study, underrepresentation in STEM is due to a lack of preparation and access to educational resources.

“Given that STEM preparation and college access are shaped prior to college entrance, STEM focused enrichment programs for high school students are promising vehicles to reduce disparities in STEM degree attainment,” the study’s authors wrote.

Click here to read the full article on ABC News Radio.

These Latina Businesses Are Changing How LA Shops — Online And IRL
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Latina Business Hija de tu Madre, a clothing, accessories and jewelry brand founded by Patty Delgado.

By Eva Recinos, LA ist

It’s easy to feel cynical about companies pushing identity for profit — witness major retailers stamping feminist mottos on everything from t-shirts and tote bags to baby onesies and barware — but some local brands are the genuine article. They’re not jumping on any bandwagon. They’re Latina-owned lifestyle businesses, creating and selling items to their communities. “We’re at a time where people are craving independently made wares, handmade wares and cultural goods,” says Noelle Reyes, co-founder of Highland Park boutique Mi Vida.

As online shopping decimates mega malls and forces old school retailers to rethink their strategies, independent brands are stepping up, using social media and community connections to make their mark. These businesses represent only a few of the city’s budding entrepreneurs but they’re making an impact — both online and in the real world.

Social Media Stars
Leah Guerrero has been making holistic skincare products — facial masks, face and body creams, hydrosols — since 2013. Two years ago, using knowledge and ingredients she gleaned from her trips to the mercados of Mexico City, she founded Brujita Skincare out of her home. She began selling her wares at Molcajete Dominguero, a now-monthly Latinx pop-up market in Boyle Heights. Her target audience? People looking for affordable vegan and cruelty-free products.

As the crowds grew, so did her social media following. Guerrero started sending products to friends and influencers. That “ricocheted into all of these people finding out about Brujita through Instagram,” she says.

To keep up with demand, she currently produces “thousands of units a month” at a rented studio in downtown Los Angeles. In April, Brujita launched a Green Collection in collaboration with Hotel Figueroa. Guests who order the Self-Care Package through mid-September get a one-night stay and a sleek toiletry bag containing four of the brand’s products.

With more than 19,000 followers, Brujita’s Instagram account features the requisite product photos, GIFs and behind-the-scenes peaks at new products. Guerrero engages with customers via DM and shares info on the account about the ingredients in each product. “With the engagement comes trust, and trust in my community means a whole lot to me,” she says.

Brujita has built a community that Guerrero wants to continue nurturing, particularly Latinx and LGBTQ+ groups. The brand’s current studio, in downtown Los Angeles, serves as a safe space for the LGBT community, with many “friends coming in and out and doing their creative work,” Guerrero says. Brujita is meant to be stylish, accessible and inclusive, a counterpoint to mainstream skincare brands built on Western ideals of beauty. Guerrero says a more formal physical location for Brujita Skincare is in the works.

Brick By Brick
For other Los Angeles brands, the IRL business came before the social media one. Reyes and her cousin, Danelle Hughes, opened Mi Vida in 2008, two years before Instagram debuted. The Highland Park shop sells clothes, housewares and art. It also functions as a gallery and a community hub, hosting poetry readings, yoga classes and meditation workshops.

“If you were a business that was a brick and mortar when social media came on, it’s almost like you automatically had to take on this new career,” Reyes says.

She began using photography to promote her products and it became a creative outlet. Instagram is also a way for her to scout and connect with new artists, some of whom have been featured in the store. Although Reyes has noticed more customers visiting Mi Vida after discovering it online, the connection also works the other way. For her, social media is a tool to supplement her store’s presence in a neighborhood where the founders have been working hard for years.

Conversations about gentrification in Boyle Heights are heated, and Mi Vida’s owners are aware of the controversy. “We hear all the time how great it is to have a space like ours on this street,” Reyes says. “That is something we don’t take lightly. We work very hard every day to continue to be a positive light in our community and offer products that bring a positive vibe.”

Click here to read the full article on LA ist.

How Rising Latino Artists Maria Isabel, Destiny Rogers, and Jay Wheeler Have Made Their Dreams Come True
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Rising Latino Artists Maria Isabel, Destiny Rogers, and Jay Wheeler

By Alvin Blanco, Genius

It’s all about talent, education, and the willingness to take risks. Music is meant to inspire, and a new wave of fresh, exciting, ridiculously talented Latino artists understands this fact.

Maria Isabel, Destiny Rogers, and Jay Wheeler are up-and-coming singer-songwriters with the talent and desire to achieve greatness. This next class of stars succeeded by tapping into education to make their dreams come true—and they’ve inspired their fans and followers in the process.

The three artists embody the spirit of the McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship, established in 1985. The goal of the scholarship is to help Latino students break barriers and make their parents and those around them proud. Over the years, McDonald’s has helped more than 17,000 Latino students—and given out more than $32 million—through the HACER program. The initiative is especially important in tough times like we’re facing now. Given the state of the world, it’s crucial for young people to keep moving forward and do more.

Isabel, Rogers, and Wheeler are certainly moving in the right direction. But they come from different places and represent the breadth of the Latino diaspora. Isabel grew up in Queens, New York, as the daughter of parents from the Dominican Republic, while Wheeler was born and raised in Salinas, Puerto Rico. Rogers, who is half Mexican on her mother’s side, held down the West Coast, growing up in Lodi, California. They all knew early on that creating music was in their future.

Dreams of rocking stages don’t always line up with the plans of parents who want more practical, and safer, careers for their children. Isabel, who dropped her debut EP, Stuck In The Sky, in October 2020, seamlessly blends her Dominican ancestry’s bachata and merengue with R&B and hip-hop and her lush vocals. She is particularly thankful that her parents had no issue supporting her aspirations.

“My parents took four-year-old me seriously when I said I was going to become a singer,” says Isabel, who attended NYU. “They never argued with that dream or told me I had to be anything different. Obviously, I had to go to school, get good grades, and all that stuff, but it was never a matter of like, pick something. I think with any first-generation kid watching your parents make sacrifices or work extra hours or whatever it may be to make it possible for you to do what you want to do, I think that was the biggest motivating force to be successful.”

While Isabel’s parents had faith in her talents, Wheeler’s classmates in school were less kind. The reggaeton crooner has spoken candidly about the bullying he faced, but he was still able to persevere and become a certified star. By posting his music on the Internet, Wheeler jump started his career. Fans dubbed him “La Voz Favorita,” and he earned praise and hands-on guidance from reggaeton legend DJ Nelson, who executive produced his two critically acclaimed albums: 2019’s Platónico and 2020’s Platónicos.

Those school bullies couldn’t knock Wheeler off his path. “I always loved music [but] I knew that it was going to be hard,” he says. “Living for something that you love is harder. I learned English in school and watching TV and movies. I knew at some point in my life I wanted to do something in the English world because [I have] a lot of respect for American music. A lot of kids [take education] for granted—I don’t know need to learn this, I don’t need to learn that—but when you get older, you realize that all the things that they gave you, you do need to educate yourself in everything, because life puts you in a different position everyday.”

Click here to read the full article on Genius.

The Hottest STEM Jobs of 2023
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group of diverse co-workers gathered around conference table with laptops

As 2022 comes to a close and the New Years’ resolutions start to flow, you may have “Pursue a New Career” as one of your 2023 goals.

The STEM field is growing now more than ever with jobs in every sector of science, technology, engineering, arts and design and mathematics. Here are the top jobs in the STEM field going into the new year:

Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems and software. They are usually responsible for designing and operating medical equipment and devices such as artificial organs, prosthetic limbs and diagnostic technology. The bioengineering field is one of the highest “in-demand” jobs currently. They are currently estimated to grow at about 10 percent, a much higher rate than average.

  • Education: Bioengineers and biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering, biomedical engineering or a related engineering field. Some positions require a graduate degree.
  • Top States of Employment: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas
  • Average Pay: $97,410 per year

Physicists

Physicists study the interactions of matter and energy. Theoretical physicists and (including astronomers) may study the nature of time or the origin of the universe. They typically work on research teams to conduct research and experiments about the natural world, but they also work to design and create lasers, telescopes and other scientific equipment that will aid them in their research. Not only are jobs in this field in high demand, growing at about 8 percent, but are one of the highest paid jobs in the STEM field today.

  • Education: Physicists and astronomers typically need a Ph.D. for jobs in research and academia. However, physicist jobs in the federal government typically require a bachelor’s degree in physics.
  • Top States of Employment: California, Colorado, Maryland, New York and Virginia
  • Average Pay: $147,450 per year

Computer and Research Information Scientists

Computer and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine etc. and have a profound knowledge in programming, complex algorithms and robotics. Many of their day-to-day tasks consist of research, computer work, team collaboration and experimentation. Jobs are growing at a little over four times the normal rate compared to average, with a whopping 21 percent increase.

  • Education: Computer and information research scientists typically need a master’s or higher degree in computer science or a related field, such as computer engineering. For federal government jobs, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for certain positions.
  • Top States of Employment: California, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and Washington
  • Average Pay: $131, 490 per year

Software Developers

Software developers create the computer applications that allow users to do specific tasks and the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks. They typically work with cliental to assess the company’s current programming and computer systems and work to create systems that are more efficient and helpful to their needs. They can also be responsible for the creation, development and functionality of computer programs and systems. Software development is a rapidly growing industry with a 25 percent outlook.

  • Education: Software developers typically only need a bachelor’s degree to work in the field.
  • Top States of Employment: California, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington
  • Average Pay: $109, 020 per year

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They are heavily involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan, maintaining software, monitoring networks and fixing potential and confirmed program threats. They must also keep up to date on the latest news and developments surrounding the tech field. IT Analysts are one of the fastest growing fields in the STEM field at 35 percent.

  • Education: Information security analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field, along with related work experience. Employers may prefer to hire analysts who have professional certification.
  • Top States of Employment: Florida, Maryland, New York, Texas and Virginia
  • Average Pay: $102, 600 per year

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, NBC

20 Latina Business Influencers to Follow Today
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collage of multiple latina influencers

Originally posted on Hispanic Executive

There are countless Latina influencers out there who have cultivated passionate followings on social media, but it takes a special type of influencer to build both a brand and a business.

And here at Hispanic Executive, we love nothing better than celebrating entrepreneurship.

Meet the Latina business influencers who are transforming their communities—and the world itself.

 

 

 

Retail

1. Ada V. Rojas, CEO and Founder, Vecina Couture

Ada V. Rojas is a mission-driven entrepreneur: all of her business efforts have reflected her desire to celebrate her Dominican American heritage and uplift other ambitious women. Her latest endeavor is Vecina Couture, a luxury loungewear line that’s been spotlighted by Oprah DailyEssenceRefinery29, and other top outlets.

2. Paola Alberdi, Founder and Creative Director, Blank Itinerary

Paola Alberdi knows fashion. She’s worked with the likes of Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Coach, and Dolce & Gabbana, not to mention lifestyle and beauty brands like Sephora and Givenchy Beauty.

Today, the Mexican American serves as founder and creative director of Blank Itinerary, a bilingual fashion and lifestyle platform that’s earned Alberdi recognition from ForbesVogue México, and Harper’s Bazaar.

3. Julie Sariñana, Founder, Color Dept.

Julie Sariñana created clean nail care company Color Dept. to be a one-stop shop for nail art aficionados “who love to be different.” All Color Dept. products feature bold, vibrant colors and are made with wheat, potato, manioc, and corn rather than chemicals and plastics.

In addition to her work with Color Dept., Sariñana runs a popular fashion blog called Sincerely Jules.

4. Julissa Prado, Founder and CEO, Rizos Curls

Afro-Mexican Julissa Prado spent years fighting her curly hair. She was never happy with how it looked, and she never found any hair products that helped.

In the years since then, she’s not only embraced her hair but created a clean, high-quality line of products designed for all curl types. Prado and Rizos Curls have been featured in People en EspañolPopSugar, and Forbes.

5. Cyndi Ramirez, Founder and CEO, Chillhouse

A serial entrepreneur with a background in fashion, marketing, lifestyle branding, and hospitality, Cyndi Ramirez has been featured by Refinery29Martha Stewart Magazine, theSkimm, and Hispanic Executive.

Her latest venture, Chillhouse, is a “multi-point retail concept” that has revolutionized the spa world. Chillhouse offers a wellness-focused self-care experience that includes a workspace, nail art studio, and massage boutique—a true getaway for those in need of deep relaxation.

5. Camila Coelho, CEO and Founder, Camila Coelho Collection

Beauty and fashion influencer Camila Coelho has not one but two businesses: her eponymous clean clothing line Camila Coelho Collection and a clean beauty brand called Elaluz. Her entrepreneurial spirit has earned her features in both Elle and Forbes.

The Brazilian American is also passionate about destigmatizing neurological disorders—she’s been battling epilepsy since the age of nine.

6. Irma Martinez, Founder and Creative Director, Trendy Inc.

A true icon in the fashion world, Ima Martinez has worked with celebrities like Sofia Vergara, Ricky Martin, Shakira, and Enrique Iglesias, to name but a few. Her company, Trendy Inc., specializes in lifestyle services for the production and entertainment industries. Martinez also offers advisory and coaching services as well as courses on the business of personal shopping and styling.

Read more about her career in Hispanic ExecutivePeople en Español, the Miami New Times, and Poder magazine.

Consulting

1. Eva Hughes, Founder and CEO, Adira Consulting

Eva Hughes was a huge name in the luxury and media spaces—she served as editor-in-chief of VogueMéxico y Latinoamérica and as CEO of Condé Nast México y Latinoamérica—before she struck out on her own in January 2018. Her company, Adira Consulting, offers brand strategy advice to clients that primarily come from the luxury sector. She also offers group and individual coaching services.

As noted in her Hispanic Executive feature, Adira is Hebrew for “strong, noble, powerful.”

2. Victoria Jenn Rodriguez, Founder, Dare to Leap Academy

Victoria Jenn Rodriguez is a business coach and serial entrepreneur who left her high-powered career in the corporate world to start a company of her own.

Her newest business is called the Dare to Leap Academy: it’s an online learning platform where Rodriguez teaches other women how to leave corporate America behind to follow their passions—without giving up their financial stability. Learn more about her in her Hispanic Executive story.

Fitness and Health

1. Michelle Lewin, Founder, One0One

Venezuelan American Michelle Lewin is one of the biggest names in the fitness world: she is a model, bodybuilder, and cover star for magazines like OxygenPlayboy, and Muscle & Fitness Hers.

Lewin is also an entrepreneur. She sells health supplements, clothing, and gym accessories and equipment through her website and has her own personal training app.

Continue on to Hispanic Executive to view the full list.

Over 1,700 Celebrate Diversity in Computing at the 2022 Tapia Conference
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On September 10, 2022, CMD-IT and fiscal sponsor, ACM wrapped up the 2022 CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference in Washington D.C. This was their first in-person conference since 2019 in San Diego, California.

The 2022 conference theme, “A Time to Celebrate! Resilience, Adaptability and Innovation in Computing,” was brought to life as over 1,700 students, supporters, presenters and volunteers came together at the Marriott Marquis and Washington Convention Center to participate in sessions, reconnect with others in the community and celebrate diversity in computing!

The CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference is the premier venue to acknowledge, promote and celebrate diversity in computing. The goal of the Tapia Conference is to bring together undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, researchers and professionals in computing from all backgrounds and ethnicities in order to:

● Celebrate the diversity that exists in computing.

● Connect with others with common backgrounds, ethnicities, disabilities and gender to create communities that extend beyond the conference.

● Engage with computing leaders in academia and industry.

● Be inspired by great presentations and conversations with leaders with common backgrounds.

The Tapia conference brings together CMD-IT’s target communities: African Americans/Blacks, Native Americans/Indigenous People, Hispanics/Latinx and People with Disabilities.

The Tapia 2022 conference offered a variety of intellectually stimulating talks from leaders in computing, along with enrichment opportunities like professional development workshops, a career fair with over 100 supporters and significant opportunities for networking. The conference concluded with its usual, fun-filled dance party.

Mark your calendars for Tapia 2023 on September 13-16 at the Gaylord Texas Resort in Dallas, Texas. Join the CMD-IT mailing list to stay connected with the Tapia Community or visit tapiaconference.org for Tapia conference updates!

Cracking the code: Working together to engage and empower female technologists at Bloomberg
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diverse women working on laptop

To create products that serve increasingly diverse customers and solve a wider range of social problems, technology companies need women engineers. However, only 25 percent of math and computer science jobs in the United States are filled by women, and one-third of women in the U.S. and China quit these jobs mid-career due to factors like social isolation, a lack of access to creative technical roles and difficulty advancing to leadership positions.

At Bloomberg, we’ve established a company culture that supports gender equality in a multitude of ways – from company-wide Diversity & Inclusion business plans to a newly expanded family leave policy. But we know that’s not enough. In recent years, we’ve adopted a system-wide approach to increasing the number of women in technical roles, taking steps to remove barriers to advancement both inside our organization and beyond Bloomberg, supporting female talent from middle school through mid-career.

While the number of women in technical jobs at Bloomberg is growing, we’re committed to making progress faster and completing all the steps needed to solve the equation. Here are some of the ways we’re tackling this important deficit – and making quantifiable change.

Early engagement

Bloomberg supports organizations that help increase women’s participation in STEM and financial technology, exposing students to various career options through Bloomberg Startup and encouraging our female engineers to engage with the next generation of talent.

Collaboration, creativity, and a love of problem-solving drew Chelsea Ohh to the field of engineering. Now she works at Bloomberg as a software engineer team lead, helping to provide critical information to financial decision makers across the globe.

Recruitment

We target our entry-level engineering recruiting efforts at colleges that have achieved or are focused on gender parity in their STEM classes. And because not all the best talent come from the same schools or have the same experiences, Bloomberg actively seeks women engineers with non-traditional backgrounds or career paths.

Talent development

Women engineers can sharpen their technical skills through open courses, on-site training sessions, and business hackathons held throughout the year. Bloomberg is committed to inspiring our female employees, eliminating barriers like impostor syndrome, and encouraging them to pursue opportunities in engineering.

Community & allies

To strengthen its network of female engineers, global BWIT (Bloomberg Women in Technology) chapters organize more than 150 events, mentoring sessions, and meet-ups a year. The community also engages male allies and advocates, sharing strategies to help them support their female colleagues.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.

How 4 engineers and culture champions are growing their careers at Bloomberg
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Digital transformation change management, internet of things. new technology bigdata and business process strategy, customer service management, cloud computing, smart industry.Ai technology.

Bloomberg Engineering’s culture champions innovation. This is made possible by the different perspectives of our 6,000+ software engineers around the globe, who come from diverse backgrounds and geographies and who possess a variety of technology specialties.

Meet four of Bloomberg’s software engineers – all of whom are active members of the Bloomberg Black in Tech Community across our New York, San Francisco and London engineering teams – and see how they’ve been empowered to impact our business globally.

 

Our conversations with them cover their paths to and work at Bloomberg, how they’ve grown professionally, their impact in technology, the importance of an inclusive workplace, and their efforts to attract more diversity to tech. Interviews were edited for length and clarity.

Lerena Holloway is a Software Engineer at Bloomberg's New York office.
Lerena Holloway is a Software Engineer at Bloomberg’s New York office.

Lerena Holloway

TITLE: Software Engineer
BLOOMBERG OFFICE: New York

How did you get to Bloomberg? What do you work on now?
I lived abroad for 5 years, during which time I taught English in South Korea for 3½ years. I then served in the U.S. Navy for 4 years, after which I felt the urge to embrace my technical talents. This career change turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

While finishing my MBA, I decided to apply to the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, one of the country’s top-ranked coding bootcamps. This decision was the beginning of my path to Bloomberg, which I was drawn to for its philanthropic programs, the eclectic and dynamic nature of the Bloomberg Terminal, and the opportunity to be immersed in a culture of strong, talented software engineers.

I’m currently in the training program for new engineers. Prior to starting my training, I had the privilege of pre-training on the Commodities team, where I worked on building a map UI in React and Node.js and integrating it with a remote procedure call framework. I really enjoyed the learning process in discovering how to merge open source technologies with proprietary technologies.

Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way?
One of my mentors is Erik Anderson, the software engineer who helped created MAPS<GO> and many of Bloomberg’s chart functions. Erik has helped me a great deal in building my confidence to tackle things outside my comfort zone. He really has helped me see that I was capable of more than I thought and encouraged me along the way, which really made me more driven to put in the long hours of practice and study that it takes to get to Bloomberg.

What do you love most about working in tech?
I really enjoy the way it has evolved over the years and how it continues to change so rapidly. Working in technology forces me to continue learning and embrace my status as a ‘forever’ student. The moment we get too comfortable in this industry is the moment we are in danger of falling behind. There are so many advances and new technologies that, even after just one year, the older versions are quickly out-of-date. What I love most is that it is an industry that never gets too comfortable; it is about constantly improving the product and making applications faster and more efficient. The associated mental challenges and continuous learning excite me the most!

What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry?
Entering a male-dominated industry doesn’t come without trepidation. Knowing that people come equipped with certain biases that they themselves may not even be aware of plays a role; it is just the way we have all been socially-programmed by the media, our parents, and our communities. The tech industry is challenging by itself and people of color may have to face a few additional challenges, dealing with variations of micro-inequities, and the burden of not contributing to certain stereotypes. However, what I enjoy the most are the raised awareness and open discussions seeking to address these imbalances. It really shows how we, as a human species, are evolving our consciousness around these issues.

In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community?
Diversity and inclusion are crucial to the strength of any great organization. In order for technology to serve a wider range of users, understanding their needs and wants is very important. With the advent of globalization, this type of understanding can only be reached by increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

I also enjoy sharing my experiences traveling and living abroad with my co-workers. It highlights the importance of travel as a way to break down barriers in understanding different cultures, which I believe is a pivotal step towards this objective. I am also a member of many different communities here at Bloomberg, so as not to limit the definition of myself to one particular ethnicity or background, but to expand my sense of self in order to represent the many different cultural experiences I’ve had and those I’ve adopted along the way.

Deji Akinyemi is a Senior Software Engineer at Bloomberg's New York office.
Deji Akinyemi is a Senior Software Engineer at Bloomberg’s New York office.

Deji Akinyemi

TITLE: Senior Software Engineer
BLOOMBERG OFFICE: New York

How did you get to Bloomberg?
I was an industry hire out of a Bloomberg recruiting event in Seattle, where I met the engineers who would eventually be my managers. They were great and provided an amazing vision of the technical challenges and company culture at Bloomberg.

What do you work on now?
I am presently working on designing and building out the underlying platform that supports Bloomberg’s Asset Investment Management (AIM) compliance workflows.

Did you have any mentors to guide your career along the way?
Most definitely! I was fortunate to have an awesome mentor when I first started at Bloomberg. He was one of those engineers whose code nuances and expressiveness are like revelations. I learned a lot about my team and Bloomberg’s culture just by contributing to his code. I was also fortunate to have supportive managers who accommodated my desire to be challenged. They were able to provide interesting, tangible and business-critical projects to broaden my scope and contributions.

What do you love most about working in tech?
It has been said that engineers are the gatekeepers for civilization. Being in tech is like a calling. The work one does has a direct impact on the well-being of others. It gets more interesting when your work pushes the boundaries of what is considered possible. When this happens, there is no greater feeling than creating something new. Then you realize that, in some small way, you’ve (hopefully) helped make the world just a bit better than before.

Are there any particular technologies that interest you?
Machine learning, especially around the areas of natural language processing and understanding. The best technologies are those that feel so completely natural and intuitive that you may forget that you are interacting with a machine. Ironically, it is extremely difficult to create such a system. Applications of ML have the powerful potential to change the way we all interact with technology, if not the very nature of the machines we use.

What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry?
There are very few of us in the tech industry. This truism begs us to ask why, as demographics don’t support this reality, as 10% of all college graduates and computer science majors are people of color. It’s sometimes hard not to feel excluded when there are very few people who look like you in the places that you are or want to be. There is often a significant effort required to go from ‘person of color,’ to ‘person,’ to ‘extremely capable person’ in the minds of others that people of other backgrounds do not face.

In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important?
Antifragility is a term coined by bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb that describes systems that thrive in the face of volatility, shock or adversity. It represents the next step beyond robustness and resilience. I believe that, by their very nature, antifragile systems are diverse. Events that could take down a monoculture are often integrated and used for the greater good by an antifragile system. Diversity and inclusion promote antifragility by fostering teams that are tolerant, supportive, engaging and dynamic.

How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community?
I am one of the co-founders of the Bloomberg Black In Tech (BBIT) Community, which is composed of individuals in technology roles across Bloomberg – in engineering, product management, data science, etc. BBIT’s singular goal is to make Bloomberg the best place for minorities in tech across the industry. We host regular events to foster professional and personal development and create a fun, safe space. We work very hard to engage, support and empower the community at large through mentoring, recruiting, and outreach events on college campuses and at tech conferences with significant minority representation.

Akin Mousse is a BQuant Specialist for the Desktop Build Group in Bloomberg's San Francisco office.
Akin Mousse is a BQuant Specialist for the Desktop Build Group in Bloomberg’s San Francisco office.

Akin Mousse

TITLE: BQuant Specialist, Desktop Build Group
BLOOMBERG OFFICE: San Francisco

How did you get to Bloomberg? What do you work on now?
I spent the first five years of my career at leading French banks where, among other things, I designed and implemented technology to automate processes on trading floors. Bloomberg found me on LinkedIn and recruited me to our London office in 2013. I’ve now worked in our San Francisco office for five years.

I’m currently a BQuant Specialist in our Desktop Build Group. In this role, I educate our clients’ quantitative financial researchers, analysts, and data scientists to leverage BQuant, our interactive data analysis and quantitative research platform and new Bloomberg Query Language (BQL). To do this, I first have to understand our clients’ workflows and determine how and where our quant research solutions can help them derive value. Often, we can help clients reduce the amount of time and manual labor spent reviewing financial statements. We can incorporate probability and statistics that help clients make faster and more accurate decisions on their financial strategies. Many times, I create the specifications, design a custom application for a team of about 20-50 users, test the app, and implement it at the client site. Finally, I help train users to program in Python in order to leverage BQuant.

Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way?
It has been challenging finding a Black professional mentor. David Mitchell, a team leader for our market specialists, has been a huge inspiration for me. We both started our careers in finance and moved to tech, so I feel like we have much in common. I appreciate how he reaches out periodically to check in on me. I admire his leadership of Bloomberg’s Black Professional Community and am really impressed by his career trajectory and the network he has built. It’s really important to see a person of color in a senior position because it makes that rank seem attainable for the rest of us.

Sandra Lee, who works in Bloomberg’s Product Oversight Office, has also been an influential mentor since we first met in 2016. She’s been with Bloomberg for more than 20 years, and she has helped me understand Bloomberg’s culture and navigate internal networks. I often use her as a sounding board to help me articulate my vision and get a second opinion. On a personal level, she shows me the value of work-life balance.

What do you love most about working in tech?
I love being in a position where I’m learning something. Technology is perpetually evolving, and you always need to be on your toes to remain competitive. I will often think about a complex engineering challenge that I am trying to solve, and will have a candid conversation with a colleague or I will read an article, and then a solution will emerge. I then implement it and it is so satisfying when it works. I also like that tech has tangible results.

Are there any particular technologies that interest you?
I am really excited about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). I love the idea that technology can show us patterns that humans cannot otherwise see because we cannot scrape through large volumes of data as quickly. From there, we can extract specific insights that influence our decision-making.

My interest in AI and ML led me to complete a graduate-level certificate program at the University of San Francisco. While I’m not using these skills in my current role, I’m excited that Bloomberg is doing cutting-edge work in natural language processing and other areas related to ML and AI. I’ve also joined Bloomberg’s Machine Learning Guild so I can stay connected to this technology; otherwise, it is hard to stay on top of it when you don’t apply it on a daily basis.

What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry?
One word: R-E-P-R-E-S-E-N-T-A-T-I-O-N! We need to see peers and leaders who are people of color. When I don’t see people of color in leadership positions, I feel like it’s less possible to attain success. When I see Black leaders, I get a lot of motivation and affirmation that it could be me one day.

In my experience, people of color aren’t taken as seriously by their peers unless there are other people of color in leadership positions. I personally feel like I need to be better than anyone else in whatever I’m doing. I don’t want to give any opening for the quality of my work to be questioned. For that reason, I often spend extra time double-checking my work in order to make everything is perfect. No one asks me to do this, but I feel I must. This adds a dimension of extra stress because that workflow is not scalable or sustainable and can lead to burnout.

In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important? How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community?
Life is so much more fulfilling when you can interact with people from different backgrounds and ways of life. At work, a diverse team can help prevent tunnel vision when solving challenges or meeting client needs. Everyone comes with baggage and biases that sometimes makes communication uncomfortable, but this ultimately leads to rich learning experiences.

I’m always trying to recruit and advocate for more underrepresented minority candidates, because we are only likely to stay at Bloomberg if we continue seeing more diversity on our teams.

Jonathan “JC” Charlery is a Senior Software Engineer at Bloomberg's London office.
Jonathan “JC” Charlery is a Senior Software Engineer at Bloomberg’s London office.

Jonathan “JC” Charlery

TITLE: Senior Software Engineer
BLOOMBERG OFFICE: London

How did you get to Bloomberg?
I was on my way to interview with a different company during the career fair at Howard University, when I ran into Kerry Joseph, an engineer who was recruiting for Bloomberg. We got to chatting about the company and he invited me to an info session later that night. What struck me was how down-to-earth and genuine he was. He wasn’t trying to sell me anything; he just talked about his own experiences at the company and how the job allowed him to grow.

In talking about his own background, we discovered we were from neighbouring islands in the Caribbean so we shared a cultural background. Having that conversation, and seeing and hearing someone like me at Bloomberg who had such a positive experience is what really sold me on the company.

What do you work on now?
I’m on the Local Development team in London, which is part of our Developer Experience (DevX) group. Our team creates and supports the tools and workflows that allow engineers to develop and test their applications locally on their laptops using whatever tools they prefer, instead of relying on a limited shared environment.

Did you have any mentors or influential managers to guide your career along the way?
Zac Rider, who leads our Real-time Distribution Platform engineering team, and Becky Plummer, a software engineering team leader in DevX (and my current manager) are two of the most influential managers I’ve had during my tenure at Bloomberg. They’ve provided me with many opportunities for growth and helped me build up my confidence in my own abilities. They were instrumental in putting my career on its current trajectory.

Femi Popoola, a technical team lead in London, has also been an amazing mentor to me. We’ve spoken about many different topics related to personal and technical growth, like knowing which opportunities are right for you and how to manage them, to understanding when you’re ready to take on a new challenge (hint: you’re never going to be “ready,” but don’t let that stop you).

What do you love most about working in tech?
I love the rate at which everything changes in the tech industry, and the ease of being able to get involved.

The tech industry evolves so quickly that you’ll miss it if you blink. In the last 20 years or so, we’ve gone from having one dedicated phone line per family and maybe having a computer for the household to us all having a computer in our pockets and everyone having a phone. All the information this puts at our fingertips has made it much easier for anyone to become involved and even to transfer into tech-related fields from any profession.

Are there any particular technologies that interest you?
Docker and container technologies are particularly interesting to me. The ability to simulate an entire environment and have repeatable declarative processes have really changed the way we think about development, testing, and stability of our systems.

What are some of the unique challenges that people of color face getting into tech / within the tech industry?
Without seeing other people who look like them or can stand as a role model for them, people of colour tend to get discouraged from entering the tech industry. It is hard to continue being self-motivated or to believe you can achieve something if all the stereotypical icons don’t represent you in any way. It’s why Kerry stood out to me so much. He was West Indian and able to succeed in the tech industry. This isn’t spoken about often, but it creates a real psychological barrier for many people. Being able to connect with someone who shares your heritage or cultural background, and being able to see yourself in that person, are some of the greatest motivating factors.

In your opinion, why are diversity and inclusion important?
Diversity and inclusion are very important as they provide different perspectives. Having someone who can see something in a different manner and who brings their own background and experiences can help elicit a new style of thinking and new direction when it is needed the most. When all options have seemingly been exhausted, something which may seem intrinsically basic to someone can actually be just what is needed to get things moving again.

How do you personally promote diversity and inclusion with your teams and/or in the community?
I’ve spoken at events aimed at promoting and highlighting diversity and inclusion, as well as been a representative, speaker and mentor at both internal and external events aimed at empowering underprivileged youth to encourage them to pursue careers in STEM and grow their networks. This includes serving as a mentor to both university students and secondary school students.

I have been an advocate for and given advice about different ways to recruit effectively at select Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) across the U.S. I’ve also attended university career fairs where I directly engage with students, serving not only as a company point of contact for them, but also sharing my experiences with them. I talk to new hires about my career progression and serve as a mentor to help them navigate the company’s culture.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.

How to Navigate the Workplace as Your Authentic Self: Advice from Latina STEM Leaders
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Despite the fact that Hispanic/Latinx individuals make up 17% of total employment across all occupations in the U.S., they continue to be underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers, comprising only 8% of all STEM workers.

Addressing the challenge of diversity and equity in STEM is crucial and will require multi-faceted efforts that amplify the voices of underrepresented employees and create workplace cultures that center inclusion. This is particularly important for STEM companies, as diverse and inclusive environments lead to better ideas, more fruitful collaboration, and more innovative approaches to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse world.

Pictured: Blanca Batlle-Aguirre (left) and Lindsey Silva (right) speak at a Genentech “Change Sequence” event.

Genentech, a South San Francisco-based biotechnology company, is working to address these challenges. Earlier this year, the company committed to doubling Hispanic/Latinx representation among their top leadership ranks by 2025, and has developed several internal initiatives to enhance cross-cultural understanding and foster belonging among all employees.

Two Latinx leaders at Genentech, Blanca Batlle-Aguirre, Senior Trainer, Ophthalmology Access & Reimbursement, and Lindsey Silva, Senior Manager, Microbiology Global QC Technology, are contributing to these efforts by driving employee resource groups aimed at giving back, building community, and advocating for Latinx people in the workplace. Throughout their careers, they have discovered the following insights on what it means to bring their full authentic selves to the workplace, and hope to encourage others in their communities to do the same.

Be Your Authentic Self and Embrace Your Roots

“We shouldn’t feel guilty about being who we are and what our cultural identity is. We need to see it more as a source of strength and a superpower. We need to change the mindset that it is unprofessional to show up as our authentic selves. The more we talk about it, and role model it, the easier it will be,” says Lindsey who grew up in a multi-generational home with her Bolivian mother, Mexican American father, and Indigenous Aymara and Spanish grandfather.

When she took on a leadership role at Genentech, one of the first things she did to get to know her new colleagues was to have breakfast, but instead of bringing coffee and donuts, she brought homemade pastelitos and salteñas. “It was a great way to build camaraderie and showcase who I am as an authentic leader,” says Lindsey.

Take Initiative and Build Community

Blanca grew up in a diverse community in the Mission District in San Francisco where she learned at an early age the importance of inclusion. She is now the lead for VIDA, a Hispanic/Latinx employee resource group at Genentech.

Blanca says “I want to change our community from the inside out to make everyone feel engaged and included. At Genentech, we are also empowered to impact our communities, even outside of the workplace. For example, in 2020 we led a voter registration campaign, and invited a health equity advocate to address questions about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.”

This year, she’s excited about the impact that VIDA will continue to have, in part by uplifting the voices of Spanish-speaking patients and advocating for more in-language services to address the healthcare access barriers faced by Latinx patients.

Trust Your Expertise and Seek Allies for Support

As an introvert, Blanca learned to trust her intuition and expertise at Genentech. She says, “Naturally I’m an introvert, and I’m grateful to those people that would pull me aside and ask me for my opinion. They would reinforce that I should speak up and share my ideas. I was able to build up my confidence through a few really strong mentors, and as a result, I’m able to speak up for myself and others as well.”

She adds, “I know there are introverts on my team, so I think about how to pull the best out of them as well. It is important to me to create that sense of inclusivity for all.”

Use Your Voice to Amplify the Conversation About Diversity

Throughout her career, Lindsey has embraced diversity and inclusion and hopes that it becomes a larger conversation in the workplace. She says, “I want diversity and inclusion to be discussed more. Science isn’t just about the technical aspect; it’s about the people as well. When I share this with colleagues, it makes them more comfortable to share their Latinidad.” She adds, “Scientific innovation comes from a diverse mindset and a culture of inclusion.”

Genentech aspires to create meaningful change and foster an environment where all employees can bring their full selves to work, like Blanca and Lindsey. Learn more about Genentech and explore career opportunities at careers.gene.com.
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Blanca Batlle-Aguirre

Blanca Batlle-Aguirre headshot

Lindsey Silva, Ph.D.

Lindsey Silva, Ph.D.

How One Skincare Company Is Reclaiming The Clean Beauty Of Their Latina Ancestors
LinkedIn
VAMIGAS is a clean skin care, hair care and beauty brand created by Latinas using botanicals from Latin America. VAMIGAS

By Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, Forbes

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Multiple academic studies have found that Latinas have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies than white women. Researchers say this may be due to Latinas outspending other groups in beauty purchases by 30%. They also have higher infertility rates, breast cancer, and U.S.-born Latinas are three times more likely to experience preterm birth than their foreign-born counterparts.

According to a Nielsen report from 2013, Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population. They are estimated to become 30% of the total female population by 2060, while the white female population will drop to 43%. The report also predicts that by 2060, there will be no single dominant ethnic group. Instead, the female (and total) population will comprise a diverse ethnic plurality where Latinas play a sizable role.

Despite these projections, skincare brands targeting Latinas tend to hide problematic chemicals like phthalates, parabens, phenols, and preservatives in their products, often in fragrances. However, excellent products are costly and largely avoid marketing to Latinas or market them incorrectly, treating them as an afterthought or homogeneous.

Christina Kelmon, one of the few Latina investors in Silicon Valley and CEO of the makeup brand Belle en Argent, has created a skincare brand, Vamigas, that aims to reclaim the clean beauty ingredients of her ancestors. It is fragrance-free, affordable, and knows how to speak to the modern Latinx Woman.

“I read these studies when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I tried to be very mindful of what I put into my body, but it was hard, almost impossible, to find products that were clean and affordable and that spoke to me,” Kelmon shared. “This is why I created a makeup brand and a wellness and skincare brand that speaks directly to the Latinx community.”

Kelmon, a 4th generation Mexican-American, and cofounder Ann Dunning, from Chile, discovered Latinas and infertility issues and the paraben-fragrance connection. As a result, they have created a line of skincare serums with clean, organic ingredients like Yerba Mate, Maracuja, Rosa Mosqueta, Prickly Pear, and Chia from Chile, Mexico Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and more.

“We want to be the leading clean beauty and skincare brand focused on Latinas in the industry,” said Kelmon. “A wellness brand that Latinas feel connected to, that speaks our language, understands where they come from, and doesn’t use old, tired stereotypes that don’t apply to us anymore.”

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Meet The Young Latina Immigrant Behind Boston’s First Zero-Waste Store
LinkedIn
Latina Immigrant opens first zero waste store

By The Bay State Banner

In a sunny storefront not far from the Boston Harbor, Maria Vasco lingers off to the side of the cash register, smiling but nervous, as she watches one of her first two employees ring up a customer. For over a year, Vasco was the only employee — the founder and CEO — of Uvida, Boston’s first and only zero-waste shop.

The name comes from the Spanish word “vida” meaning “life.” Vasco said she tells customers “you give life” by shopping plastic-free and reducing waste. Uvida offers a variety of home-goods essentials in plastic-free packaging, from deodorant and lip balm in cardboard tubes to tissues and toilet paper made from recycled materials.

“The business is just myself, which in the beginning was great. But it started getting isolated, getting to be too much on my plate. Right now is my first time having employees,” Vasco told Zenger News.

The storefront opened last December during the pandemic, but Vasco launched the business as an online shop in 2019, while still a full-time student at University of Massachusetts-Boston.

“I worked part-time at restaurants and internships just to make ends meet. Then at nighttime, I would stay up until four in the morning doing market research, looking at products, making my website,” Vasco said. “And it was like the best time of my life. I just was having so much fun doing it, that it didn’t matter how much I had on my plate. I always made time for that.”

Vasco started advocating for environmental issues in high school while competing with the debate team. That’s where she first came across the statistic that in 2050 the ocean will have more plastic than fish.

“I never thought the spark I felt was based on the things I was advocating for, I thought it was because I was debating,” Vasco said.

When it came time for college, Vasco, who was born in Cali, Colombia, and moved to East Boston at age 4, chose to attend UMass-Boston for its diversity and affordability. She was undocumented until her junior year of college, making her ineligible for federal financial aid. (Massachusetts allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.) Vasco’s debate coach suggested she pursue a degree in political science.

“By the first semester, I was like ‘no way, I cannot do this.’ It just wasn’t my spark.”

While looking for a class to fulfill a science requirement, Vasco landed on environmental science and quickly fell in love with it. After switching her major, she started talking to her professors outside of class, learning about their specific areas of research and expertise. Through those conversations, Vasco decided she wanted to focus on plastic pollution.

“This is something I can control, because I touch plastic every day,” Vasco remembers.

It was during her freshman year of college that Vasco started trying out plastic-free products. There were some she loved, and some she didn’t, but purchasing any of them required a lot of online research. When she did settle on a product she liked, she would have to remember the website in order to restock. She wanted a curation of products she liked all in one place, and that sparked her idea for Uvida.

“I am my own ideal customer,” Vasco said. “I also need to shop plastic-free. I use all these products myself. So I realized that if I don’t have this store, even in my own city, and I have to be the one that does it, then I will.”

Click here to read the full article on The Bay State Banner.

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