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Latinas in STEM on a Mission to Empower the Future

By Gloria Romano-Barrera.

Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, more than half of these jobs may go unfilled due to the insufficient pool of qualified college graduates. With the job market changing rapidly, the Latinas featured here are committed to not only improve their companies’ bottom lines by expanding the qualified workforce, but they are driving innovation at a full force empowering the future of the U.S. economy by encouraging the next generation to follow.

Laura Ramirez
Director Diversity & Inclusion Human Resources
Ericsson

Ericsson at Girl Scouts Women of Distinction Luncheon

“Prior to starting a family, my parents, Pedro and Juana, immigrated to the United States with less than $10 in their pocket,” Laura Ramirez, Director Diversity & Inclusion, Human Resources, at Ericsson shares. “They sacrificed so much to move to the U.S. with hopes and dreams of providing more opportunities for their family.There is not one day that goes by that I do not appreciate their sacrifice. Because of them I have been given many opportunities, chances that I may have not received anywhere else. The risk my parents took moving to America gave me a sense early on in my life, that taking risks does pay off.”

A leader for driving change in corporate cultures, Ramirez is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion. Her commitment started 18 years ago when she started working in the technology field.

Prior to joining Ericsson, she spent 17 years at AT&T global headquarters. Her work experience was extensive within Human Resources, Finance, Business Marketing, Business Solutions, to working directly with Chairman & CEO Randall Stephenson. With 17 years of experience at AT&T and now at Ericsson, Ramirez’ roots play an essential role in shaping who she is.

Ramirez leads all initiatives related to building and fostering an inclusive culture at Ericsson. Her efforts around D&I help to elevate employee engagement, employee experience, external brand, attracting diverse talent and retaining talent. She partners with all internal stakeholders, she influences and supports all D&I initiatives. She also leads seven Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at Ericsson. Since joining Ericsson, she has helped to launch four new ERGs. She strives to guide and empower her ERGs towards excellence. She collaborates with external diverse organizations to create dynamic experiences for the company that further enhance D&I efforts. She strategically partners with organizations to elevate Ericsson’s brand. She also manages Talent Management functions within Ericsson, she co-created the first talent acceleration program. She supports succession planning and global talent development programs.

“I firmly believe that my role is important,” she states. “I play a part in enabling and enhancing a greater sense of belonging for all our employees. Our employee engagement increases which in turn we deliver a happier customer experience. My role allows me to positively impact our wonderful employees, the communities we serve, external partnerships, and our customers directly and indirectly.”

Community engagement is important for Ramirez. She serves on the University of Texas at Dallas Diversity Advisory Council. She is a member of the Plano Culture and Inclusion Alliance. She is a big supporter of Cristo Rey College Prep High School in Southeast Dallas, where she speaks to the students and mentors a few of them. Ramirez also started a networking and support platform for women called Empowering Latinas. This platform allows women to create a

sisterhood-type bond, one that allows them to support one another as they climb through corporate America.

“I also wanted to help out kids that were separated from their parents and were being held in detention centers,” she states. “My Latinos+ employee resource group at Ericsson helped to collect 1K items that we donated to RAICES to help the cause.”

Ramirez also mentors up-and-coming young Latinas. “Knowledge sharing and supporting their success is important,” she says. “I feel that every person can create change within their community, find what works for you.”

A mother of two, Lily and Diego, Ramirez has instilled in them the importance and significance of diversity and inclusion. “I’ve explained what it means to them now and how it will play a role in their future, their everyday

life,” she shares. “My call to action is for everyone to talk to the next generation of leaders, your kids, your grandchildren, your nephews and nieces – speak and show them about what inclusion (togetherness) truly means. Life-long lessons begin at home.”

Milagros Figueroa-Tetuan

Network Engineer – Managed Voice and Network Services Global IP & Managed Services Sprint

Milagros (far right with former) Srpint CEO Marcelo Claure, and the Ballet Folklorico del Sol during a Cinco de Mayo ERG (Enlace) event. May, 2018.

Curious at a young age about how the radio, TV, or microwave worked, Milagros Figueroa-Tetuan always turned to her dad — her inspiration — for answers. And, although she excelled at math, it wasn’t until cellphones came into the market that her excitement and inclination toward engineering began.

“I thought I wanted to be an accountant, but later on when cellular telephones came to the market, I was so excited to know more about how they operated,” she states. “I knew this is what I wanted to study. It was very exciting

to receive my Engineering title and have my father present at my graduation ceremony.”

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, she obtained her B.S. in Electronics Engineering at the Universidad Simon Bolivar in Venezuela. Soon after, she journeyed to the U.S. in 2004 to continue her education at Johnson County

Community College where she graduated with Presidential Honors and obtained vocational certificates in Cisco and Windows connectivity.

Today, Figueroa-Tetuan is a Network Engineer II for Managed Voice Services under Global IP and Managed Services. As part of the Tier III Cisco Voice Team, she provides 24/7 technical support and Service Assurance for external large customers using IP Telephony or Cisco VoIP products. This includes 13 Managed Voice (MIPT/HCS), 375 SIP, and 9 Smart UC customers.

Figueroa-Tetuan’s path to success was a bumpy one. She had two major obstacles, one was having an undergraduate degree from another country and the language. Unable to find a company who would hire her as an engineer, she worked as a dishwasher, and as a Spanish tutor. Later, she was able to work at a call center.

As part of the Service Assurance team, she oversees 24/7 support to customers. “We are one of the few teams who work around the clock for emergencies and outages which can occur at any time, and it is a priority for us to be there to help our customers and bring them back to operational status as soon as possible,” she shares. “Some of our customers are airlines, fire protection, and international customers with multiple sites in all five continents.”

Passionate about helping others, Figueroa-Tetuan serves as the President of Enlace (Sprint Hispanic ERG) since January 2018. She also volunteers with the Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“I love meeting new people, and Sprint is such a big company, that even after being employed for 10 years, I still meet new people every day,” she states. “I love the many opportunities offered for professional development, like the ERGs. My favorite part of working at Sprint is how much importance the executives give to diversity and inclusion.”

Marisa N. Medina

Senior Staff Systems Engineer Lockheed Martin Aeronautics

Marisa N. Medina receives the SHPE Member Award. November, 2007.

Marisa Medina at the Hispanic Heritage Festival. October, 2006

“Once I knew what Engineering was, that it paid well, and was a form of applied math/science, I knew that’s where I was headed,” shares Marisa N. Medina when asked what drove her to pursue a STEM career. “I enjoyed being good at, or able to do Math and Science. I liked that it was considered hard, and that it was a respected industry. I know STEM is important for our country and planet as well.”

Born in New Orleans, Medina has spent most of her life in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, New York City, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As the senior staff systems engineer she is working in the Skunk Works®, on a few Advanced Development Programs in the Systems Engineering and Architecture Team. Her team develops design documentation, requirements, functional decompositions and modeling diagrams. She also serves as the scrum master lead to one of their capability teams, and is a project manager.

Medina attended Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science for her freshman and sophomore years with the intention of pursing an Applied Math degree. She graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington, with both Math and Electrical Engineering Bachelor degrees. She joined Lockheed Martin Aeronautics after graduation, as an Electronics Engineer. She completed her coursework for a Master of Science in Technical Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, while working full-time.

During her 17-year career in Fort Worth, she has served in various System Engineering roles across Avionics Design, Test, Software, and Hardware. She has also served in various Integration and Project Engineering roles. She has

supported the F-35 Lighting II program for over 16 years, and most recently the Skunk Works® team.

“Being Latina has given me that Familia at work,” she shares. “I’ve spoken about how I didn’t really have that many LatinX peers before I joined the workforce. They were either younger or older due to my outreach or networking activities.”

Her advice for Latinas aspiring a STEM career is to learn Spanish. “The number of people expecting me to speak Spanish is continuously increasing,” she shares. “I would encourage people to know factors that may prevent someone from obtaining a security clearance. I feel knowing this in high school/college would be beneficial.”

Medina has been involved in several Employee Resource Groups, and Diversity, Communications, Culture, New Employee, Organizational, Leadership, Vitality, Generational, Recruiting, and STEM Outreach efforts. She is also part of a Young Philanthropy Group, and on the STEAM side, a Bass Hall Young Patron member.

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