Latin American women in tech are fighting back against ‘machista’ culture

During the seven years I’ve lived in Latin America, I’ve encountered countless examples of misogyny. I originally came to Buenos Aires as part of a fellowship through Princeton in Latin America. My task was to set up a SAT prep course, but I had never done business in the region, never even set up my own business, barely spoke Spanish, so I failed miserably. That endeavor aside, I decided to stay in Buenos Aires.

I ended up working with technology startups in Buenos Aires and growing a business in the region. I remained in Buenos Aires for six years and eventually moved to Medellin, Colombia, where I’ve lived for a year. When all of the astounding, but believable, claims came out from Silicon Valley about male VCs and influencers sexual harassing women, I started to think about my experiences and the experiences of influential women in technology around me.

Before getting into what happens here, it’s important to note a strong cultural difference between the United States and Latin America. Here, there is a strong ‘machista’ (male pride) culture. My initiation into this culture came in the form of catcalling. Especially since I look different, I endured grotesque shouts in the street, stares in the subway, and aggression in bars. And the statistics back up my experiences.

For example, a Brazilian research institute conducted a survey that found 26 percent of people agree that “women who wear clothes that show off their body deserve to be attacked” and more than half also agreed that “if women knew how to behave, there would be fewer rapes.” The top three most dangerous public transportation systems in the world for women are in Latin America: Bogota, Mexico City, and Lima. Four out of the top 10 more dangerous places for women to travel are in Latin America: Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)…

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