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Young Women in STEM Grant Recipient – Florencia Larroca

Information Systems Engineer | Women in Tech Ambassador | Advocate for LatAm women in STEM

In 2020, Mary Kay launched the Young Women in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) grant program and social campaign to help shift the perception of “the face of science,” and encourage young women to pursue STEAM paths. Since then, we have awarded nearly 20 grants to young women in STEM.

Meet Florencia Larroca, an Information Systems Engineering student at the National Technological University of Argentina. Florencia is involved in Latin America’s NGO ‘Chicas en Tecnología’ where she is an ambassador for encouraging young women to venture into the field of technology. She writes that women in STEM bring new complex advantages that are important in creating a diverse and successful team. Florencia believes that young women in the future with an eagerness to learn will accomplish great things in the world of STEM.

2023 Young Women in STEM grant recipient, Florencia Larroca

Describe your STEM projects/interests.

I am currently studying Information Systems Engineering at the National Technological University of Argentina. I am an ambassador for the NGO ‘Chicas en Tecnología’, a role that aims to promote the motivation, education, and participation of young women in Latin America in the field of technology, through experiences, knowledge, testimonials, and support. I have contributed my experience and encouraged the participation of women in engineering in schools, and I have even had the opportunity to share it in front of leaders from different companies. Alongside my studies, I have taken technology courses, all of which were either free or with scholarships. In the future, I would like to develop a platform where young people from all over the country can find free courses or initiatives and apply for them, transcending gender and economic barriers.

What/Who inspired you to get into STEM?

Since I was very young, I have always felt a particular attraction to computers, not knowing how they worked and believing that some kind of “magic” was happening inside them. When I learned that it was the human mind that created them, the desire to understand their functioning inspired me to focus my studies on technology.

Once in the field, I was impressed by the immense achievements that computer science can accomplish and the significant contributions that women have made throughout history. It overwhelmed me to see how little visibility these female scientists receive. Women like Ada Lovelace, Hedy Lamarr, Sophie Germain, and many others managed, through their innovations, to help me overcome any fear of pursuing technology.

Additionally, when I was deciding which career to pursue, I was fortunate to find a network of women filled with aspiring, current, and graduated professionals in STEM fields. They all made me feel supported, understood, and unknowingly provided me with the encouragement I needed to make the decision to study engineering once and for all.

What are some advantages you think being a female brings to the STEM field?

Being a female brings advantages to the STEM field such as: contributing to the visibility of the contributions made by women throughout history, serving as inspiration for more young women to dare to study technology, and getting one step closer every day to closing the gender gap. It also provides a complex, different, and necessary perspective on problem-solving, which is essential for the development of robust and diversified teams, with high efficiency, analysis, and understanding.

What would you tell young girls who are interested in STEM, but too intimidated or discouraged to pursue it?

To all the young girls interested in STEM, I would say never stop seeking. Seek information, seek experiences, and seek companions on the journey, but always seek. Technology is about evolution, transformation, and learning, but above all, it is about equality. We can all be part of it and enjoy its creation and innovation equally. I am confident that with the eagerness to learn and discover more about this beautiful field, they will achieve incredible things.

The world is full of magnificent people ready to support the new generations in their first steps into the world of technology, and there are multiple organizations equally committed to nurturing that budding love for this wonderful field of study within them.

It’s perfectly fine not to pursue a career because it doesn’t resonate with you, but it’s very sad not to follow a path that could truly ignite your passion due to a lack of information.

What do you think is most exciting about the future of STEM, and is there a specific advancement you’d like to see happen?

What I think is most exciting about the future of STEM It is the software innovations. Personally, I am very interested in discovering what new horizons will be reached with the development of artificial intelligence. I would like to see technology transcend various parts of the world and make access easier beyond economic positions. I dream of a world where technology is enjoyed and accessible by everyone, regardless of gender, age, economic resources, geographical location, and so on. I would be delighted to witness its development through methods that do not directly and harmfully impact the environment and to demystify all the fears that arise around it.

Who’s your favorite female icon and why?

My favorite female icon is Anne Frank. Writing and reading have undoubtedly been, are, and will be among the most important hobbies in my life. I first read Anne Frank’s Diary when I was the same age as Anne when she wrote it. She completely revolutionized my perspective on leadership, female empowerment, and activism at a young age. I began participating in contests, getting involved in organizations, and applying for scholarships, all while knowing her story and understanding that it’s never too early to take action for what matters to us. I am grateful for my perseverance in participating in a literary contest that, upon winning, allowed me to travel to the Netherlands to visit Anne’s house. Her story of resilience and her ability to fulfill her dreams beyond death still moves me just like the first day I read her diary.

Anne was a young woman who, in just 15 years of life, managed to leave behind her legacy and defend her voice. Although her life was deeply unfair, she achieved her goal of becoming a writer. Just like her, all women have rights and dreams. At the age of 16, I became a volunteer guide at the Anne Frank Center in Argentina, and this space allowed me to learn about the stories of many Argentine women filled with dreams, struggles, and strength. Having Anne as a role model for female empowerment since I was young has been tremendously valuable to me, and I would love to see more and more young people learn about her, a situation where I also believe technology could be of help.

2023 Young Women in STEM grant recipient, Florencia Larroca
2023 Young Women in STEM grant recipient, Florencia Larroca