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Empowering Women, Latin American founders, and Diverse Talent in the Tech Industry

By Gabriela Cobo
Gabriela Cobo
I'm a technologist born in Ecuador and living in London. I work at the intersection of technology, fashion, and innovation, and I'm currently part of the Open Innovation team at Farfetch. Over the years, I’ve had experience in a wide range of industries - consulting, health tech, adtech & media, and Luxury retail across the Ecuadorian, US, Spanish and British markets. Passionate about sustainability, gender equality, fostering innovation and uplifting Latin American voices in IT.
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Empowering Women, Latin American founders, and Diverse Talent in the Tech Industry

In a world where technology shapes our lives in countless ways, it is crucial to examine the tech industry's impact from diverse perspectives. As I embarked on my professional journey, I quickly realized technology's profound influence over our lives. From revolutionizing healthcare to transforming how we shop, technology holds the potential to improve and reshape society. However, alongside its advancements, it also poses significant challenges, such as biases, inequalities, and the unequal distribution of access. Through this article, I aim to shed light on the importance of representation and the need to address biases in technology development through my personal experiences as a Latina in tech. Join me as we explore the hidden narratives and untapped potential within the tech industry, making the invisible visible.

When I first joined the tech industry a few years ago, I quickly realised technology's impact on people's lives. My experience has led me to work across various business verticals, including consulting, health tech, programmatic advertising, retail, and, most recently, in the Open Innovation team at FARFETCH. And whether it was building apps for virtual urgent care for a New York hospital, designing IoT devices to improve accessibility, optimizing the RFID systems of one of the biggest fashion retailers in Europe, or bringing luxury shopping closer to people. So, regardless of the product I was working on, one thing I've learned from the people around me is that, as technologists, we all want to develop digital goods that better or alter people's lives.

The Role of Technology

The tech industry's history has a great track record of improving our quality of life by connecting us to each other and to a world that often feels limitless. Nowadays, technology provides us with freedom, flexibility, independence, and greater productivity, allowing us to navigate cities using GPS, have anything delivered to our door, connect with communities and like-minded individuals, and collaborate with teammates worldwide. However, if we are honest, not all technology makes lives better.  We are starting to ask ourselves more often than ever before how the products we build and use affect our privacy, the environment, our democracies, and our mental and physical health. Technology has the potential to change societies significantly, but it also poses substantial ethical, social, and economic challenges that demand attention if we are to guarantee a positive impact.

My view as a Latin Woman


As a young woman from Latin America, I’ve been acutely aware of the potential role that technology can play in perpetuating biases and inequalities and the unequal distribution of access to technology and digital skills, which prevents some groups from fully participating in the digital economy. Every experience I’ve had working in different countries and industries alongside very brilliant tech people has been quite unique, challenging, scary, rich, and occasionally, all at once. And despite having such a variety of exciting experiences, I have consistently been the only woman and the only Latin American in all sorts of rooms.


My personal experience is what drives me to draw attention to the importance of Latin American and female talent representation in global technology forums, as well as the potential for the industry to tap into a diverse pool of expertise, creativity, and viewpoints that can result in innovative and exciting developments in technology. Technology is not neutral, and the data we use to fuel it can reinforce social inequalities. Because data tell stories, but when the data only represents a part of the protagonists, we risk telling a distorted depiction of reality. Consequently, as technologists, we are responsible for considering the end users and ensuring their voices are heard when selecting the problem to solve during the design and development phases.


Males from hegemonic backgrounds in the Global North have always been the central subjects of the narrative in the tales of humanity and even in today's tech forums. Relegating women, Latinxs, and other underrepresented groups to a secondary role. That indicates that men's lives have been used as a monolithic representation of all mankind. But since people don't perceive the world in a monolithic fashion, that couldn't be further from the truth. The lack of representation of these diverse groups of people in tech, media, films, literature, planning, economics, etc., is not necessarily malicious or deliberate but somewhat unintentional. As humans, we can't help being biased. This is because every interaction we have is colored by the preconceived ideas generated from our past experiences and current reality, including culture, religion, socioeconomics, politics, age, etc. All of these serve as lenses to filter our realities and perceptions. However, nobody wants to admit or be associated with those biases. And in tech, if we don't account for our biases when solving a problem, we risk solving the wrong problem.

Challenging Biases and Empowering Diversity in the Age of Big Data


Nowadays, we collect data on a big scale. And this trend continues to be perpetuated with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence. This is because if inadequate data trains AI, we are locking historical biases into the system. Therefore, we are doomed to perpetuate and reinforce past mistakes as humans and organizations. Even though the internet has helped with the democratization of access to information, decisions continue to be made by a very homogeneous group of people. And that is why is now more relevant than ever to change the perspective on how women and the different diverse groups are being represented and accounted for. This way, we will start seeing these groups as fundamental stakeholders in the decision-making and not as a deviation from the standard in the data.


Research has shown that the Latin American region is highly entrepreneurial, with some countries like Brazil, Colombia, Panama, and Chile leading the charts among the highest rates of entrepreneurial activity in the world. Latin America and other countries in the Global South have a lot to contribute when it comes to innovation, entrepreneurship, ethics, and technology. Unfortunately, most of the debates I see are from a Global North perspective. Moreover, when we add gender to the equation, the level of representation drastically drops in the tech industry. Globally, only about 30% of women choose to pursue a career in engineering, and in countries like mine in Ecuador, they only reach 10%. So, while the world grows increasingly dependent on technology, the underrepresentation of women in technical careers may widen inequality.

The Power of Technology for Gender Equity and Diverse Entrepreneurship

At a first glance, when it comes to gender representation, the fashion industry may appear to be more equitable because there are more women and founder-entrepreneurs working in that space. However, there are still prominent cases of power imbalance that exist today. For example, when female founders are not permitted to retain long-term control of their startups, or when they are shadowed by the "big boys club" when seeking investment, or when gender quotas are satisfied, but there are fewer women in technical or directive positions actually influencing decision-making. These are all too familiar circumstances in which talented women must work twice as hard for half the respect afforded to their male counterparts.


Over the years, technology has driven all societal advancements. From the wheel to penicillin, the internet, vaccines, and now Artificial Intelligence. According to research, businesses are more competent than governments to tackle big societal problems, which is a big responsibility. Because it represents an excellent opportunity for companies like FARFETCH and other major industry players to lead by example. As part of our Open Innovation strategy, we partner with the best-in-class tech fashion startups to co-develop solutions, products, and experiences for strategic areas in the business. On the one hand, this model allows businesses to access the most recent technological developments while lowering costs, risk, and timeframes through the power of co-creation, resulting in competitive advantages and long-term sustainable development. And on the other hand, it offers startups and smaller companies access to resources, networks, infrastructure, and industry-specific knowledge that may be used as a lever to accelerate their growth. As a result, this model has the potential to be a game changer in the industry and contribute to the creation of a more diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem. By switching our focus to other lesser-known tech hubs like Latin America or being intentional about uplifting female founders' voices, big players can play a crucial role in boosting a more diverse pool of tech founders and talent by fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and access to resources.

Founders can benefit from connecting with other experienced entrepreneurs, mentors, and industry experts who can provide guidance, support, and valuable networks. As well as access to infrastructure, this exposure can lead to increased visibility, credibility, and potential investment opportunities. From my experience working with founders, I’ve learned that these types of co-creation and partnerships can result in win-win situations for the parties involved. But on a larger scale, it provides opportunities to promote an entrepreneurial mindset, risk-taking, and collaboration, inspiring more individuals from diverse backgrounds to pursue entrepreneurship creating a true cultural shift in the global tech industry. 

Looking Ahead

As technologists, we hold a remarkable opportunity to shape the trajectory of our future through the power of technology. First of all, we can start by cultivating a more critical perspective on emerging technologies and their potential impacts on individuals and communities, particularly those who are underrepresented. Then, at an organizational level, we should continue to delve into alternative models of innovation in conjunction with key stakeholders in the private sector, government, and academia to cultivate an ecosystem that nurtures the growth of diverse talents. Simultaneously, on an individual level, It is crucial to recognize and provide inclusive spaces and platforms for individuals from diverse backgrounds to have a voice, to be heard, seen, and celebrated. Together, these efforts can pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable tech industry where everyone has a seat at the table.

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