Visual journalist Mariana Santos knows what it takes to succeed as a tech-savvy newsroom leader, and she wants to help other women do the same.
That's why Santos, formerly with The Guardian's interactive team, created “Chicas Poderosas” earlier this year to train, engage and inspire Latin American women journalists, designers, programmers and artists. Since May, the project -- which is part of Santos’ ICFJ Knight Fellowship -- has reached Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica with workshops and opportunities for learning and networking for both men and women.
During an IJNet Live chat Monday, Santos talked about the nuts and bolts of putting together a Chicas Poderosas event and how to bring one to a city near you. Here are excerpts of Santos' comments during the chat:
How to get an event started
Mariana Santos: Chicas Poderosas works like this: We see a need and a group of people, generally women, who want to learn more and are able to help organize an event. In general, all that is needed is money to bring people [to an event]; everything else is love and goodwill.
What we need is a sponsor to get the event on its feet! A network of local people know best who to ask for help, such as for an event location, money for travel expenses, meals and lodging. Normally we have the support of newspapers and universities who train professionals and students who want to know more about data journalism and visual storytelling.
Chicas Poderosas already has groups in Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia. To get one together, people should let me know they want an event in their city, and we can see if it’s possible. I find donors, journalists, designers and developers to take part, learn what approach the group is looking for and bring the best-suited people [in each area].
Interested people can write me, and together we can try to do one in your city. If we fail, we can try [to put together an event in] a nearby city. People who are working can seek financial support [to attend] from their [news outlet], but what they will bring when they return is much more valuable than a plane ticket.
How big should a group be?
M.S.: Events are normally between 80 and 500 people. But if Chicas is going to bring experts, it would be best to have a bigger group, so that more people can enjoy the investment and time with experts, such as from the New York Times, the Guardian, NPR, etc.
What’s coming in 2014?
M.S.: The next event will be in January in Santiago, Chile, with help from Miguel Paz of Poderopedia and Chris Cross from The Guardian. In February, we will go to Mexico City, then to Portugal, Argentina, Peru and again to Colombia.
What's your advice to female journalists, designers, etc. who want to serve in tech positions?
M.S.: Don’t be scared! And if you are, don’t pay attention to your fear.
To read the complete chat (in Spanish), go to http://ijnet.org/es/chats.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Anthony Albright under a Creative Commons license.