Founded by five MIT alumnae, the Latinas in STEM Foundation is on a mission to “inspire and empower young Latinas to pursue, thrive, and advance in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.”
The founders (Diana Albarrán Chicas ’03, Jazlyn Carvajal ’03, Veronica Garcia ’02, Luz Rivas ’95, Noramay Cadena ’03, MBA ’11) are all first-generation Americans, and the first in their families to attend college. They are also well aware of the barriers women, especially Latinas, face in STEM industries. Now successful engineers, they are serving as role models to underserved communities and inspiring a new generation to pursue careers in science and engineering.
“We aim to not only educate students, but most importantly their parents so that they may be better positioned to support their daughters along this challenging journey,” co-founder and electrical engineer Diana Albarrán Chicas ’03 told Scientific American.
Latinas in STEM offers a number of hands-on workshops and summer programs for K-12 students throughout the US. Its STEM 101 conference is aimed at middle school and high school students and their parents. The conference is free of charge and provides bilingual workshops for parents, covering topics such as college admissions and financial aid processes. Attendees also have the opportunity hear personal stories from STEM professionals in their communities. So far, conferences have been held in New Jersey, California, and Texas.
The foundation continues to grow, thanks to a nationwide network of supporters. Since its founding in 2013, Latinas in STEM has reached 2,200 girls and 350 parents.