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Bridging The Gap: Melina López on Expanding Access to Technology in Latin America

Editor’s note: Melina López describes her job as “training the workforce of the future” across much of Latin America. She is a native of Argentina, and now works in Brazil seeking ways to empower underrepresented groups through podcasts, training sessions, skills-building websites, and more. Her quest for greater social justice began years ago, and has expanded in unexpected ways since she joined Google Cloud. 

What does it mean to be working in Products & Inclusion in Latin America?

I have two main roles—one is helping folks become trained and certified in Google Cloud, and the other involves broadening access to Google Cloud among underrepresented communities. A great deal of my efforts are focused on working with individuals you don’t normally see in tech, including those with different races, genders, and economic backgrounds. I want to help pave pathways for people to build careers as cloud engineers, and learn about tools they can use (check out our Capacita+ website). Besides that, I have a podcast called “Listen Louder,” which is about giving more space to marginalized voices. I want to move away from only doing equity work around specific moments in times, such as Black Consciousness Month in Brazil, or International Women’s Month, and instead build programmatic initiatives where we can discuss these topics throughout the year.

Melina López leading an #IamRemarkable workshop for women entrepreneurs in Salvador, Bahia (Brazil), in partnership with Vale do Dendê local startup accelerator.

How did you come to this?

I’ve always worked hard to fuse my passion with my work. I would say that my interest in social justice began while I was at university in Buenos Aires, when me and my classmates started an adult literacy group, teaching marginalized people how to read and write. I then joined a nongovernmental organization in Brazil, where I learned Portuguese. 

At Google, I started in ad sales and held a few different positions before landing at Google Apps for Work, which eventually became Google Cloud. Brazil is a huge landmark in my story as a human being—the way people show affection, the number of issues they surface around race, gender and justice—it’s very personal to me, and has directly influenced my desire to do more with Google Cloud and social justice.

Do you feel like you are bridging a gap?

I hope so. People from underrepresented groups don’t often see themselves as creators, but as consumers of technology. We want to help them see the ways they can build their own businesses with technology. However, barriers are different in Brazil than in the U.S., because we don’t have things like women’s universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. So we work with a lot of nongovernmental organizations, spearhead campaigns such as, “Women in Cloud,” and offer practical workshops where people can meet with facilitators.

We also create programs to educate businesses. For example, we did a podcast in Portuguese about “How to combat racism at work,” and another one in Spanish about bringing more women into tech. We’ve also facilitated programs focused on how products like Workspace can be more inclusive—from light enhancement in Meet so people can be seen better, to using the “raised hand” function for those who may be more introverted.

Has doing this work changed the way you see things in general?

This work has certainly broadened the way I see Latin America as a whole. Not only because of the new voices and communities we’re meeting and introducing innovative technologies to, but because it has allowed me to become “more Brazilian” on a personal level.

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