Rising Voices

Chicas Poderosas: Starting a Network

This post was guest-written by Mariana Santos , who founded and manages Chicas Poderosas , a new project she is developing as a Knight International JournalismFellow. We recently published a postdetailing the project itself.

Working in newsrooms with a multidisciplinary team of developers, journalists and designers became my everyday life as part of the Guardian Interactive team over the last 3 years. This began with my former boss Alastair Dant , who had a vision not only to start the Guardian Interactive team, but to recognize the need for a woman in a determinant position on his team. This changed my life; first it was the chance to work with a genius, and secondly to see that being a woman was actually making a difference in our every-day work environment, as we created news stories with a cutting edge technology and a disruptive attitude towards communication.


Mariana Santos, founder of Chicas Poderosas (photo Eyleen Vargas @nacion.com)

This made me want to share this experience with other women. I feel that we, women, especially among the Latin world are the first ones to cut our own wings and not allow ourselves to dream too high and to honestly believe we can reach far in our careers. I am not sure if it is due to humility or a lack of confidence, or maybe even an overdose of high expectations and an obsession with perfection! Our society does enough of that, making it harder for women to get further ahead in high level management and in some technical jobs. I believe we need to be the first ones to believe in ourselves.

That’s why I’m launching “Chicas Poderosas” (Powerful Women) in Latin America, with support from the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Knight Foundation. I am calling on the best professionals I’ve worked with to the same table, so we can share our stories about how we got to where we are now and how it is possible for any girl to get where they want as well.

We’ll share some tools and processes that are specific to these roles we are talking about: data mining, scraping, development for interactive features, investigative techniques, and visual storytelling techniques, etc. However, mainly we aim to gather a group of strangers together with different skills in order to work together, embrace change, and celebrate the possibility of developing news stories. These stories may be interactive, animated or a simple data visualisation, using all the skills taught by the team where the participants learn how to develop a process where everyone contributes to a better product.

The other goal of Chicas Poderosas is to start a network where people can keep in contact, keep developing, and keep sharing knowledge.

Chicas Poderosas aims to start a chapter in each Latin American country with representatives who will work as ambassadors spreading knowledge and the philosophy of embracing team-work, believing in women who can make a change in technical environment in newsrooms. The idea is to empower women to believe in themselves and to work hard. We want to empower that pro-active attitude, entrepreneurial spirit… to do more and talk less! We came to the conclusion that the goal of “perfection” is the enemy of “great,” as sometimes being too detail oriented leads us to not do something if we think it is not going to be awesome. I believe sometimes we need to allow ourselves to do something even if it’s not perfect, (but at least we tried) and that if we learn through failure, then we can always launch version 2.0!

You can follow Mariana and her work with Chicas Poderosas on their website, Facebook, and on Twitter @poderosaschicas. If you’re in Latin America, watch for one of their events.


Chicas Poderosas: periodismo de datos por mujeres en Latinoamérica

Construir y diseñar contenido informativo para toda la población, no sólo al 50%, necesitamos empoderar más mujeres… Combinando el poder de las nuevas herramientas y enfoques para el acopio de noticias con las fortalezas que las mujeres ofrecen en comunicación y narración, las salas de redacción podrán atraer plenamente a los consumidores de noticias de hoy, exigentes y conocedores de tecnología.

Parece obvio… la única pregunta es ¿por qué no había sucedido antes?

944723_541858919183883_1206822092_n Chicas Poderosas es un nuevo proyecto fundado por Mariana Santos [en], becaria del Knight International Journalism Fellowship [en] (Becas de Periodismo de Knight International)Chicas Poderosas planea crear una red y construir capacidades, a través de eventos y formaciones que lleven más mujeres a la sala de redacción. Ellas buscan crear una nueva tradición de narración visual de periodismo basado en datos, con mujeres en la vanguardia.

Mariana dice:

En Latinoamérica, el creciente periodismo investigativo de datos está alcanzando asombrosos resultados en términos de contenido, [pero] lo que veo que falta es la capacidad de transformar este contenido en una forma eficiente de comunicación con las audiencias… [necesitamos] convertir esas historias en contenido de consumo para una mayor audiencia, no sólo para expertos en datos.

1002766_10152989080625051_1266853995_nChicas Poderosas busca hacer esto involucrando a las mujeres en el proceso: periodistas, diseñadoras digitales, desarrolladoras de software, directoras de proyectos, narradoras, animadoras…

Chicas Poderosas mostrará a las mujeres cómo crear historias basadas en datos, escarbar y utilizar esos datos y crear narrativas atractivas utilizando técnicas de narración visual y multimedia. Presentar el proceso de dirección de proyecto, relaciones de trabajo, presentación y preparación de discursos o entrevistas, facilitándoles el equipamiento completo para tener éxito en sus caminos.

Este proyecto está apoyado por la Fundación Knight [en] y el Centro Internacional para Periodistas [en] (ICFJ). El programa de becas está “diseñado para inculcar una cultura de innovación y experimentación informativa mundial y para plantar nuevas ideas y servicios que profundicen la cobertura, expandan la entrega informativa e involucren a los ciudadanos en el proceso editorial”.

Los próximos eventos serán en Costa Rica y Colombia, con muchos más por venir (organizados a través de su sitio en Meetup [en]) y son publicitados activamente en su sitio web, página de Facebook y en Twitter @poderosaschicas y a través de la etiqueta #chicaspoderosas. Si están en Latinoamérica, ¡ubiquen uno de sus eventos!

Mariana nos escribió un artículo acerca de su inspiración e historia detrás de la fundación del proyecto –pueden encontrarla en nuestro blog [en].

Todas las imágenes son de la página de Facebook de Chicas Poderosas.

Introducing Chicas Poderosas: Women-driven Data Journalism in Latin America

To build and design news content for the whole population, not just 50%, we need to empower more women … Combining the power of new tools and approaches to news gathering with the strengths women offer in communication and storytelling, newsrooms will be able to fully engage today’s demanding, tech-savvy news consumers.

It seems obvious… the only question is why hasn’t it happened before?

944723_541858919183883_1206822092_n Chicas Poderosas is a new project founded by Mariana Santos, a Knight International Journalism FellowChicas Poderosas plans to create a network and build skills, through events and training to bring more woman into news rooms. They aim to create a new tradition of visual storytelling with data driven journalism, with women at the forefront.

Mariana says,

In Latin America the ever-growing data driven investigative journalism is reaching amazing results in terms of content, [but] what I see lacking is the capability to transform this content in an efficient form of communication with the audiences… [ we need] to convert those stories into consumable content for the broader audience, not only data experts.


Chicas Poderosas means to do this by engaging women in the process: journalists, digital designers, software developers, project managers, storytellers, animators…

Chicas Poderosas will show women how to create data-driven stories, scrape and use data, and create compelling narratives using visual storytelling techniques and multi media. Introduce the process of project management, working relationships, presentation and preparation for pitchs or interviews, providing them with full gear to succeed in their paths.

This project is supported by the Knight Foundation and the International Center for Jounralists (ICFJ). The fellowship program is ”designed to instill a culture of news innovation and experimentation worldwide, and to seed new ideas and services that deepen coverage, expand news delivery and engage citizens in the editorial process.”

Events are upcoming in Costa Rica and Colombia, with many more to come (organised via their Meetup site), and are actively publicized via their website, Facebook page, and on Twitter @poderosaschicas and through the hashtag #chicaspoderosas. If you’re in Latin America, watch for one of their events!

Mariana wrote us a post about her inspiration and story behind the founding of the project – you can find it on our blog.

All images are from the Chicas Poderosas Facebook page.


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