What do civil engineering, architecture, and tech all have in common?
For starters, Joyce Delatorre.
Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Joyce double majored in architecture and civil engineering, worked for over a decade in construction, and is currently navigating the tech world as a bilingual Senior Technical Sales Specialist at Autodesk, a tech company dedicated to helping customers solve problems through designing a better world.
Joyce points out that these three sectors have something else in common: they’re typically male-dominated fields where women may have to fight for their place.
We sat down with Joyce as she lifts the veil on what it’s like being a Latina woman in tech and her advice for other Latina women on establishing a career in such male-dominated spaces.
Owning Her Space
In Brazil, as Joyce explains, it’s uncommon to see women in high-level management or executive roles. When she started working for a construction company fresh out of college, she struggled with gender expectations and roles that catered to men.
“I’ve noticed that during meetings or on different occasions women often have to prove themselves,” she explains. “When women speak they are often questioned or doubted. In addition, they have to actively insert themselves in certain spaces to be heard. Men on the other hand are taken more seriously and are invited to the conversation more often.”
Joyce points out how women have to fight for their space in male-dominated fields. Fortunately for her, what made this fight a little easier was the encouragement of informal mentors and positive managers.
“I had leaders that helped me gain the confidence to express and execute my ideas,” she shares.
Although she admits that not every leader she’s worked with has been encouraging, the ones that were made all the difference. And this positive support continued when she started working full-time at Autodesk.
Entering Tech with Autodesk
Joyce first came to Autodesk through a college internship. “In the beginning, everyone questioned why I was interning at a technology company while studying architecture and engineering,” she shares.
But this questioning didn’t stop Joyce from learning information that she knew would be useful for her in the future.
“For me, it was a good internship because I gained a lot of experience with technology, and innovation,” she shares. “When I started working in construction, I was the person in the company that could use technology to implement new ideas. I was able to introduce new technology into the companies I was working with.”
After college, Joyce started working in construction and spent 12 years in the industry building her career. Perhaps it was fate when three years ago, Autodesk invited her back to take on a full-time position.
In her current role, she is supporting companies across the globe.
“Nowadays, I work in different sectors, not only in construction but also in sanitation, energy, infrastructure, and more,” she explains. “Within these sectors, I’m trying to understand the challenges they encounter and I use technology to help these companies meet their goals.”
Joyce enjoys the breadth of her work and the supportive environment that Autodesk cultivates.
“I enjoy working here because it’s a company that pays attention to all the important details,” she explains. “They care about well-being, work-life balance, diversity, and including more women. They provide us with many opportunities.”
For Joyce, there is a sense of relief being able to work in an environment that is supportive of women’s visibility and contributions. A perspective that is not yet accepted in every part of the tech industry.
A Latina Woman in an International Company
Although Joyce has made advancements in her career, there are still many challenges that come with working for an international company.
Since her native language, Portuguese, is the official language of only around 7 countries, Joyce often finds herself navigating her professional interactions by being hyper-aware of language and cultural differences.
“Everything is more challenging for non-native English speakers because not everything is available in our language,” she shares. “We have to prepare and develop everything in advance because oftentimes the information needs to be translated.”
One of the biggest challenges Joyce mentions was when it comes to speaking up in multi-national meetings.
“Every country has its own set of rules and customs,” she points out. “Something that can appear rude for one country is not for the other. So we always have to adapt in order to understand the other cultures especially when it comes to speaking up and communicating in a way that everyone can understand.”
Having this empathy and patience has helped Joyce step into spaces that lacked Latinx representation.
On the other hand, Joyce also highlights the rewards of working in this field. She explains, “You are often connecting with so many people in so many cultures. It’s not an easy field but I think the benefits and the relationships you can create while working in tech will benefit you throughout your career.”
Advice for Latina Women in Tech
Being a Latina woman in tech comes with both challenges and rewards. Thanks to Joyce’s over fifteen years of experience working in typically male-dominated sectors, we can draw from her history some important lessons. She offers this advice:
- Don’t let the small things stop you. Whether you are the only woman or person of color in your class or company, continue to pursue your goals. “If it’s a field that interests you, you will have a bright future if you continue to persevere,” Joyce encourages.
- Prepare yourself to take on bigger roles and responsibilities. “I used to have a lot of fear of speaking in public,” she shares. “And now I present to audiences of more than 500 people. I was able to do this by preparing myself. I would train and put myself in situations where I could practice speaking in front of groups of people. I would find friends and coworkers and practice with them as well.”
- Follow positive leadership. “Identify someone whose leadership and values inspire you, whether they are a woman or man, and try to emulate what they do,” she says. “And if you have the opportunity, reach out to them and ask for feedback or advice.”