Meet Rebecca Garcia – Geek Girl on the Web!

rebecca-garciaShe has been featured this year as one of Glamour Magazine’s ’35 Women Under 35 Who are Changing the Tech Industry’. She won the “Champion of Change” award in Tech Inclusion for her work to bring STEM education to underrepresented groups, especially youth and women. As we write this article, she has also been nominated for the Top 99 Outstanding Discoverer’s Award 2015. A developer, a mentor, a consultant, and a speaker, Rebecca Garcia wears multiple hats with aplomb!

We caught up with her to find out the story behind this multidimensional life, and found a down-to-earth, encouraging woman, who absolutely loves what she is doing!

Rebecca Garcia is the Co-founder of CoderDojo NYC, a non-profit teaching youth to code. It hosts monthly age-specific workshops for 100 participants each, and reaches over 1,200 families across the Greater New York area. Previously, Rebecca was a Developer at Do Something, the largest U.S. non-profit for youth and social change, and CTO of Greatist, a health, fitness and wellness media startup reaching over 3 million unique visitors.

Currently, she is a Developer Evangelist at Squarespace, empowering people to build their ideas on the web. In her spare time, she works on side projects where she goes back to her love for coding. And when not coding or being a role model, she can be found baking or practising her salsa moves! “It is definitely a challenge, balancing the different acts. But one does not have to choose between roles. Prioritization and good scheduling is the key”, she says.

There is a growing consensus on how technical skills should be acquired by everyone as part of the literacy campaigns. Rebecca seems to agree.

As a woman of Latin American origin, in the technology industry in the US, she is a minority and her story inspires other minorities, and the women. She interacts with budding developers and entrepreneurs who look for guidance on things like strategy decisions, personal branding and career advice. When asked what motivates her to mentor when she has her plate full already, she had this to say. “As a minority woman in the US, in the tech industry, I understand that my experience might help others. There is a need for more role models around! I, for one, did not have a role model when I was growing up, and I hope to be able to change that.”

Being a woman, Rebecca has faced various challenges getting to where she is today. She has done stints with organizations for women like Girls Who Code, and feels strongly for the cause of women in tech. In a survey of Guardian readers working in the technology sector, more than half of respondents said that the limited number of women studying science, technology, economics and maths (STEM) contributes to the male dominance of the sector – an opinion held by both men and women. This shortage of women in teams leads to what is called the “brogrammer” culture in companies. In the same survey, almost three quarters of women respondents said the industry is sexist, with many more reporting they had been denied promotions and equal pay.

While women are slowly but surely advancing in the field, Rebecca feels that there are still forces within the industry that hamper this progress. The tech industry still holds biases and presumptions, and this results in issues like unfriendly policies and discrimination. “Non-profit organizations are the friendliest to women. The tech industry, not so much. Issues like maternity leave policies, disparity in income, sexism and cases of insensitivity are not uncommon”, she says. But she is also quick to clarify that the change has to begin from both ends. The industry has to become more receptive and responsive to women, and the women have to equip themselves to feel more confident. There lies the future, and it sure looks bright!

 As part of our efforts to connect people, we asked Rebecca if she would like to speak to some of our readers directly and she happily agreed! Write to us and we will contact you within a week and tell you how you can reach him!

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Category: Game Changers