“It’s normal right now to be the only woman in the room, but we have to change that to create diversity in the new products we develop.”
Women make up less than 30 percent of the workforce in three critical tech clusters: data and AI, engineering and cloud computing, according to a 2020 World Economic Forum report. That doesn’t sit right with Julissa Mateo Abad — one of 50 young standout project leaders highlighted in PM Network’s special Future 50 issue this month.
“If women don’t participate in creating these solutions, we probably end up with a solution that doesn’t fit for us,” Abad says. “It’s normal right now to be the only woman in the room, but we have to change that to create diversity in the new products we develop.”
Along with forging her own path in tech as a project leader at a digitization firm, Abad founded Mujeres TICs RD (Women in ICT Dominican Republic) in 2016. With 250 volunteers and more than 500 members, it encourages girls across the Dominican Republic to study engineering and learn coding.
“We want to make it as normal for girls to study tech as it is for boys,” she says. “We want them to know they can become creators rather than just tech users.”
Abad is out to double the number of women in tech from the Dominican Republic by 2030—and she leads by example. In 2017, she was part of a team that won the first hackathon for women in Central America and the Caribbean. The challenge: generate empathy for trash collectors in Costa Rica. Within 48 hours, she and her team had created a virtual reality program that simulated the working conditions at garbage dump sites.
The project exemplifies her belief that focusing on humanity can inspire teams to create new technologies—and transform society.