#ChicaTech Sylvia Aguiñaga: developing the new tech generation

Nearly everything is achievable with a click of our smartphone. We watch our Netflix shows on our 4K televisions and even have our car park itself. It’s indisputable that technology is deeply integrated in every aspect of  our lives. Yet, with so much technological advancements, many are left behind. For #ChicaFresh Sylvia Aguiñaga, addressing the gap between minorities and technology has become her objective.

“Our voice isn’t being heard and I feel if more Latino people from our communities come together, we can make things happen.” Sylvia said.

She’s a Program Coordinator for DIY Girls, a non-profit that provides hands-on tech experiences for girls in northern Los Angeles, an area predominantly Hispanic. There, she develops curriculums, runs after-school programs, and creates resources for kids and parents.

Under representation of minorities in Silicon Valley and in the tech industry overall is truly a serious matter. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than 10 percent of Hispanic and about 15 percent of women makeup the tech workforce.

She says, “People talk about the digital divide but I feel its more of a participation divide, people have computers and phone, so technology is there but its a matter of how people are using it.”

Sylvia took interest in teaching children about technology, specifically coding (computer languages), after spending a few years doing it in Japan. That’s where she also picked up on coding, she taught herself to code. She says that teaching children about technology at an early age, is the best way to addressing the need for minorities in the industry.

According to economic and employment growth projections, more than 1.7 million programmer-specific job opportunities will be available in 2022, and these jobs are the fastest growing in the U.S. This is why she wants to teach and help the younger generation to get involved with coding and other types of technologies.

She believes the STEAM fields gives children a creative way of looking at the world.  

Sylvia was born in Santa Ana, California. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in Psychology and is currently working on her Masters degree in Library and Information Science.

In addition to working with DIY Girls, she’s a Special Projects Intern at Los Angeles Central Public Library, she helped create a coding curriculum that will be implemented at 9 schools and library branches in the L.A. area. As an ALSC Special Populations Committee member, her job is to make sure programming remains inclusive—reaching all children and informing all parents.

Sylvia says the integration of parents to their children’s education is essential. She has created a brochures in Spanish and English to show parent’s what is coding, why its important and what other resources are available to help their children learn the skill.

“We know the Latino community are makers, we have a long standing tradition of creators, we work really hard and we have so many skills.” She said.

There is really nothing this #ChicaTech can’t do. She is helping connect the uprising the tech industry with the new generation. You’ll never know if she’s harvesting the interest in a child that might become  the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.