Bay Area summit encourages STEM careers for Latinas

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- Companies like Google are interested in reaching out to young Hispanic girls and encouraging them to pursue projects and careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. That's why on Friday, Google hosted the Latinas Think Big summit at its Mountain View headquarters.

Some of the young Latina girls who attended are interested in aviation. Some may make it a career, but to get there they will need a lot of encouragement and good mentors.

In March they will all go to San Carlos to learn what it takes to fly a plane.

These are girls interested in STEM courses. Many enrolled in after school programs to learn new tech skills.

"5th grade is when you start to lose interest in math and science and we need to get them there, not wait until they are in high school," said Luz Rivas of DIY Girls Technology Program.

Tech companies are realizing many of these girls will someday be part of their work force.

"Latinos in general will be 40 percent of Millennials in the U.S. by 2015. 40 percent of Millennials, and half of that will be women," said Andrea Guendelman of the Center for Women and Information Technology.

Without enough local hires, companies will be forced to look outside of the country. Many already do.

"This is not just a problem of the companies, this is also a problem of the education system. The education system needs to bring in more opportunities for kids to be exposed to science, math, technology," said Angelica Perez-Litwin of Latinas Think Big.

The Latinas Think Big innovation summit was hosted by Google. Its purpose is to help increase the number of Latinas in STEM careers and tech companies by making connections.

Alejandra Castillo is the Director of the Minority Business Development Agency in Washington, D.C. She says businesses owned by Latinas are growing rapidly.

"Those are the promising statistic. The goal obviously is to move them to the industries of tomorrow and make sure they grow," said Castillo.

This is the third stop of a national tour to show what Latinas can bring to the technology front.
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