Things That Matter

These Latinas Are Changing The World With Their Groundbreaking Inventions In Science, Technology, And Engineering

Women are under-represented in the tech sector. Not only that, but they’re underpaid, often passed for promotions and faced with everyday sexism. It’s no wonder women are more likely to leave the industry within a year compared to their male counterparts. But there’s hope. Last week, the MIT Technology Review published a list of the leading Latin American innovators of 2019, and we wanted to highlight the women, who have pushed through in a male-dominated industry and are creating solutions for issues like climate change, terminal illnesses, and other threats. 

In a field that requires women to work alongside men who don’t believe women have the intelligence and inclination to work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), these Latina innovators are proving otherwise.

Renee Wittemyer, director of program strategy and investment at Pivotal Ventures —Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company— says that women, and particularly women of color, “are being systemically left behind.” And, she adds, “these stats are moving at a glacial pace.” According to Wittemeyer, African American women and Hispanic women represent 3% and 1% of tech workers respectively.

There is an extensive underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. 

Women make up only 24 percent of the STEM workforce. To make matters worse, only 3 percent of Latina women are working in STEM fields. So these Latina innovators are worth celebrating. 

These scientists, biologists and engineers are making a social impact by solving many of the world’s most complex questions and threatening issues—from climate change to terminal illnesses to social problems.

Here are five Latina innovators shaking up the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) sphere and using technology to create a greater impact for the world:

Lucía Gallardo

technologyreview.es

Lucía Gallardo is the brain behind “Emerge,” a start-up that aims to solve social problems with emerging technologies, such as blockchain, Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). “Through her company, Gallardo tries to bring these tools to people who work on social impact projects, especially in impoverished countries such as her native Honduras. One of Emerge’s main sources of support is women and marginalized communities, who are driven by both technology and advice,” MIT Technology Review writes.

María Alexandra Tamayo

technologyreview.es

This Colombian innovator, is purifying water in a country that has the second-most water resources but where only 8% of households have access to drinking water. This way, the biomedical engineer hopes to avoid diseases and death caused by water.

“This is how NanoPro was born, a device ‘capable of eliminating fungi, viruses and bacteria from water without affecting its taste, smell and color,’ the engineer explains. “The filter can be applied in both rural and urban populations, since it is incorporated both in faucets and in thermoses for those areas whose supply network does not reach homes.” With her invention, Tamayo hopes to democratize the access to drinkable water.

Marcela Torres

technologyreview.es

Marcela Torres wants to help refugees and immigrants in Mexico through “Holacode,” a software she developed to provide immigrants with access to employment and better integrate themselves into society. “Marcela Torres realized that in Mexico there were not enough people with the qualifications needed for the software developer positions that were open in the country, so she decided to use technology to solve the problem,” the MIT magazine wrote. “This is how ‘Holacode’ was born, a start-up that offers software development courses for the migrant community in Mexico.” Holacode offers coding and software courses for migrants in Mexico. The courses lasts five months, and with this start-up, Torres hopes that technology education can become more democratic and accessible. “The start-up allows these jobs to be filled by especially vulnerable people such as migrants.”

María Isabel Amorín

technologyreview.es

Amorín, 28-year-old Guatemalan chemist discovered an innovative way to clean sewage. On top of emissions and the excessive rate at which we are consuming resources, another great impact that global industrial activities have on the planet, is water pollution. In short, textile industries use a lot of chemical dyes for the production of clothing, which not only results in massive water waste but these chemicals can pollute rivers and other bodies of water. 

The Guatemalan chemist, Maria Isabel Amorin, “synthesized a polymer from shrimp shells that’s capable of retaining the dyes used in the textile industry.” According to the MIT Technology Review, “The filter works by recirculating and retaining the dye used to dye clothes. This project is particularly focused on artisanal textile production, since the technologies available to treat the waters are very expensive. Now, the young chemist is in the process of patenting her ecological method of filtration and hopes to scale production.”

Mariel Pérez Carrillo

technologyreview.es

This Mexican biochemical engineer and entrepreneur, helps farmers increase their crop production through Innus Technologies. Carillo recalled, “I went to the countryside to learn from the farmers and I realized that they don’t know how their crop is. They also don’t know what state their soil is in.” She invented Enviro, a device that identifies soil conditions and climate in real time and, from them, offers recommendations to improve crop yields.

Thanks to its sensors, Enviro can measure temperature, humidity, conductivity, pH and salinity. The device can help farmers reduce crop losses. Pérez affirms that Enviro also reduces the need of agricultural supplies, “which reduces the contamination of soil and aquifers caused by to excessive use of agricultural chemicals.” 

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She Moved Up The Ranks From Janitor To Nurse Practitioner, Now She’s Viral

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She Moved Up The Ranks From Janitor To Nurse Practitioner, Now She’s Viral

Talk about a dream fulfilled.

For ten years, Jaines Andrades harbored her desire to move up from her custodial position at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts to nurse. Now, ten years later, as an RN she’s excelled well past her drams.

Andrades worked her way through nursing school while working at Baystate Medical in Springfield, Massachusetts, as a janitor.

Ten years ago, Andrades accepted a position as a custodial staff member at Baystate Medical Center with big dreams of being a nurse. Born to Puerto Rican parents Andrades moved from her family home in Springfield, MA in 2005 when she was 14 years old. From there she and enrolled as a student at Putnam Technical-Vocational Academy with hopes of moving up the ranks as a nurse.

“As I got older and approached graduation I just didn’t see how a little girl like me could ever become a lawyer. I didn’t see it as something that was possible for me, so I got discouraged from the idea,” Andrades explained according to Masslive.com.

That all changed after she struck up a conversation with a nurse during a doctor’s visit for her mother. According to Andrades, the nurse tipped her off on the benefits of nursing. “He told me about the program to become a nurse, and, the more he talked, I just thought, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’ It’s a respectable profession, and I could provide for myself financially, so the idea grew from there.”

Soon after she enrolled at Holyoke Community College, ticked off all of her pre-requisites and a handful of introductory nursing classes. Then, in 2010, she transferred to Elms College.

The same year she transferred, Andrades applied for a job in Baystate’s Environmental Services Department and became a custodian at the hospital.

Facebook

“It’s tough to be the person that cleans. If I had to go back and do it again, I would. It’s so worth it,” Andrades explained in an interview with WBZ-TV.

In a Facebook post, Andrades wrote about her journey from hospital custodian to nurse practitioner and posted a picture of all three of her IDs.

Andrades’ story went viral after she shared her experience to Facebook.

Speaking about her journey from custodian to nurse practitioner, Andrades shared a picture of all three of her IDs.

“Even if it was cleaning, as long as I was near patient care I’d be able to observe things. I thought it was a good idea,” the RN explained in her interview before sharing that her favorite part of being a nurse has been her ability to provide patients with comfort. “I just really love the intimacy with people.”

“Nurses and providers, we get the credit more often but people in environmental and phlebotomy and dietary all of them have such a huge role. I couldn’t do my job without them,” she went onto explain. “I’m so appreciative and like in awe that my story can inspire people,” Andrades told WBZ-TV. “I’m so glad. If I can inspire anyone, that in itself made the journey worth it.”

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There’s A Mysterious “Bat Cave” Full Of Blind Snakes Near Cancun And It’s Creepy AF

Things That Matter

There’s A Mysterious “Bat Cave” Full Of Blind Snakes Near Cancun And It’s Creepy AF

YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico is full of incredible natural beauty, so it’s no wonder that it’s frequently one of the world’s most visited destinations. People love to visit the picturesque beaches, the ancient ruins, lively cities, and relaxed pueblos. But we would imagine that few people would add this mysterious ‘bat cave’ to their list of destinations, considering it’s full of blind snakes that hang from the ceiling to catch their prey. 

Mexico’s mysterious ‘bat cave’ is part of a truly unique ecosystem. 

Cancun is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s home to some of the world’s greatest beaches and tons of adventure at cenotes and Mayan ruins. But, apparently, it’s also home to a unique ecosystem that includes a so-called bat cave home to thousands of blind snakes that hang upside down. Yikes!

The cave, located less than 180 miles from Cancun’s spectacular beaches, is home to a species of blind, deaf snakes that feed mainly on flying bats.”This is the only place in the world where this happens,” Arturo Enrique Bayona Miramontes, the biologist who discovered it, told Newsweek.

The cave system remained completely unknown to tourists and surprised many scientists, who marveled as the jungle was peeled away to reveal another species, another hidden natural world.

The “cave of the hanging snakes” has a 65-foot wide mouth from which thousands of bats of seven different species swarm out every night, seeking food in and around Lake Chichancanab, some 2 miles away. When the bats return from nighttime feeding, some become food for the snakes.

The cave is a bat paradise – unless they become food for the blind and deaf snakes.

The giant cave is home to hundreds of thousands – perhaps even millions – of bats who cling to the cave’s roof. Joining them in the cave are a unique species of blind and deaf snakes that strike unsuspecting bats as they fly by.

The technique of the yellow-red rat snake is frighteningly precise, Bayona Miramontes said. “These snakes do not see or hear, but they can feel the vibrations of the bats flying, and they use that opportunity to hunt them with their body, suffocating their victims before gobbling them down.”

If you’re feeling adventurous, the cave is open to a limited number of visitors.

The cave is located nearby a very small Mayan community in Kantemó, on the Yucatan peninsula. Although the village is so small that it only has one church, the community has been working hard to protect this unique ecosystem.

Only 10 visitors are allowed inside the cave at a time and no photography is permitted. Since the pandemic began, the cave has been closed but it will reopen when the health department of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo allows tourism again.

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