“Empoderatec’s mission is to draw attention to the work of women in the sector of technology, science and innovation”
Why did you change your life so radically?
Because I was working in an office, in the place I “wanted” to be, surrounded with everything I “wanted” and with the perfect boyfriend ―we were about to marry―, but none of those things made me feel complete.
Did you talk about that with someone?
With my boyfriend, who was my best friend. Our relationship did not end bad; he understood that I was not feeling well.
You needed to find yourself.
I needed to do something with my life and I decided to leave it all. I had started a consulting job for the World Bank that demanded me to travel throughout the country for 3 months, so I decided I would tell my parents about my decision after the trip, but I had an accident a few days later (a motorbike ran over her). That is why I always say that we never know what will happen in our lives.
Now you are leading Empoderatec, a tool that enhances the interest of women in science, technology and innovation thanks to the example of Peruvian women standing out in sectors that are considered only for men.
Empoderatec’s mission is to draw attention to the work of women in the sector of technology, science and innovation. Why? Because somebody invited me to enter this world after my accident; this world was completely different and made things clearer for me; it is a parallel world in which technology and innovation are helping improve the future of the country and the world. If someone had introduced me to nanotechnology when I was at school, I would have not studied management! If I had known that I could programme my own videogames and become a programme developer… Do you know how much does a developer earn working for foreign countries? Ten thousand dollars! A programme developer working from home for a US company!
It is said is easier for men to study technology, science or math.
Of course it is. Boys receive remote control cars and girls receive dolls. Boys’ curiosity is awakened with that…
Boys are invited to take action and girls to be at home.
That is right! Boys, unlike girls, are prepared to develop skills. That is why they tend to fix and disassemble things.
“Once a woman told me that her daughter had started working in digital development and loved it, but her husband thought that it was not a job for girls”
For this reason, Empoderatec disseminate cases that can also inspire little girls. Are there results already?
Yes. For instance, there is a little girl that saw the video we made to Mónica Abarca, a mechatronic engineer that creates and manufactures drones; she asked her mother to look for a place where she could learn science. She is now attending MaCtec (the Mini Academy of Science and Technology) and sent me a video saying, “I want to be like Mónica and work for NASA!”. That was one of the first videos I received and showed us that we were on the right path. This year, Empoderatec will become a programme for soft skills development, as girls felt very inspired (by videos) but did not know how to talk to their parents about changing their degree. Some of them told me, “I’m afraid; people say that being an enterprising woman is not so feminine”. Once a woman told me that her daughter had started working in digital development and loved it, but her husband thought that it was not a job for girls. That is why our videos show the stories behind each undertaking; in that way people can know how they are as women, mothers, friends and daughters… we show their human side and how they lead great changes.
They work hard.
If you are an entrepreneur, don’t believe you can have a normal love relationship. No. You will have to find someone who wants to be with you during the process.
Your work is the proof that there are increasingly more women in the technology sector.
Yes, although we are still behind in comparison to other places. The technology sector is still mostly for men, that is why we ask for more opportunities in more important issues. “Do you women want to enter into technology? Ok, you will put some colour to websites”. We can do much more than that. That is why I will begin a trip across the leading countries in innovation; I want to know those markets personally. I will be back at the middle of this year; I expect to bring mentors with me to connect them with local entrepreneurs. I will make a great startup. After I went bankrupt, I lost confidence in my talent.
That is true. You created a startup in which you invested everything and failed. What did you learn from it?
Phew! Now I know what I do not have to do (laughs)… I also learned that I was emotionally able to get through that.
You also learned that there is always somebody that will help you, didn’t you?
Always! But asking for help is necessary for that, otherwise help won’t come. Regarding the previous question about how failing affected me, I want to add that winning the innovation competition of the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) was very important. It gave me my confidence back, as it was not my mother or my therapist but the best technology centre of the world who was saying that I was good, that I should believe in me and that I had defeated all the competitors that were also good. That is why we have to take a chance… always!