Mª Pilar Cantarero: «I hope that we have in Telefónica the future #Hacker Women who will revolutionize technology»
There have always been women in technology, even if it was in the minority. Many of them achieved incredible challenges, but anonymously or even behind a male name, remaining hidden from the rest. They could be referents to encourage the arrival of more women, “but nobody made them visible and we were used to it being that way. It seemed that this world was exclusive to and for men. Without nearby referents, the desire to access a sector that can be uncertain, changeable, competitive. This is the reason why the digital gender gap is born”, confesses María Pilar Cantarero, one of Telefónica’s #HackerWomen.
In the framework of women’s week, at Telefónica we want to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion as essential values. Pilar Cantarero is an example of courage, talent and commitment to breaking stereotypes regarding women and the technological field.
Its motto and purpose: #WomenInTech
Pilar is part of the team at LUCAthe data unit of Telephone that offers solutions for Artificial intelligence and big data to companies and organizations. He is a Program Manager and works with development teams coordinating product versions and seeking efficiency in processes, thanks to continuous improvement mechanisms under an agile culture framework. An engineer by vocation, she surrounds herself with a multidisciplinary team with important female references such as Elena Gil.
Involved in projects that want to break the gender gap. If you ask her which initiative identifies her the most, she confesses that #WomenInTech is the label that defines her from head to toe. And she chooses a label used in social networks, because, in addition to being a woman committed to education, she has an active life on social platforms from where she also makes it clear that there are no limits to be set.
His career makes it clear that his life has always been linked to technology. From a young age he was fascinated by antennas and radio protocols, so he specialized in ‘3G’ programming UMTS networks. It was the moment in which he began to take off that technology and everyone dreamed of having a smartphone. Her first steps in the technological world took place in the field of networks and terminal homologation, then she moved on to device software certification and ended up being involved in the world of software development on a larger scale.
In addition to her professional development, during these years she has actively participated in different events, and even from social networks to encourage the youngest to bet on technological skills. One such initiative has been #GirlsWhoCodewhere Pilar found a good way to facilitate access to girls and young women within the technology sector so that programming was not a barrier to entry.
In addition, she is a mentor in various programs at the Carlos III University of Madrid, is part of #technovationgirlsis ambassador of #IAmRemarkable from Google, and brings programming closer to schools thanks to 11defebrero.org.
In his long professional career, he has also had the great opportunity to collaborate with Adalab, a programming bootcamp where technical content shares the spotlight with the development of soft skills that are so neglected in technical training or universities.
In this program, Pilar trains other women as front end developers through an intensive course that is proving to be a complete success. “These skills are the differential value so that the students have the necessary tools that allow them to better adapt to a complex sector.” Pilar is convinced that, with projects like this, the scientific and technological field will be able to cover the high demand for technological profiles and reduce the gender gap. Currently in this sector, women are still below 15.6% insertion, as cited in the White book published last year.
Teamwork is not just an option
For Pilar, in the technological world, mostly occupied by male profiles, the people and the teamwork that make it up are the key. “A work culture that facilitates communication and collaboration among those involved in a project is vital for the team to function motivated and not get frustrated.” For her, the goal is to achieve “sustainable development.” For this reason, in her training sessions, she works with “Scrum”, a new method that is based on a set of good practices for teamwork, where the students ‘self organize’, the pace of the class is adaptive, and in which “to be wrong is welcome”.
When you ask him what advice he would give to a boy or girl who wants to dedicate himself to technology, he is clear: «Let them ‘soak up’ technology as soon as possible, inform themselves well about the different training paths, look for a mentor, and set a goal. She is the mother of a little girl and would love for her to be an engineer like her. But what if she realizes that technology is not for her? Pilar insists on the importance of girls discovering, researching, experimenting, trying technological disciplines as well as others that may interest them so that, in the end, they feel free to decide what they really want to be, knowing “that there is no profession impossible”.
Diversity, so promoted and even in some cases hackneyed, provides a different perspective on what to do and how to do it. “It allows us to grow as a team, as a company, as a society and as individuals.” Pilar assures that for these disciplines to provide real value, “the better society is represented in them, the greater impact they will have on it.”
But not everything has been easy for her, and she remembers that, after almost 20 years in the profession, she has encountered various obstacles for being a woman. When she graduated from college, and during her master’s degree, there were only two women in her class. «In all the companies where I have worked we have always been in the minority. For this reason, and because I have been getting to know women who deserved everything, I increasingly wanted to continue and give more to change things: to show that limitations are imposed and that we can really play any role without any ceiling» . If something is clear to us from this talk, it is that Pilar is a fighter, and that when she ran into those obstacles, she turned them into opportunities to overcome. This is how she found her site. She is a woman and a mother and, that they value her for her work and encourage her to continue advancing, she is the reason for her to get up every morning.
She is part of Telefónica’s #MujeresHacker movement, an initiative promoted by Chema Alonso, to make ‘tech women’ visible. “Being a hacker is challenging the system to show where it fails in order to change and improve it,” she says firmly.
Telefónica is one of the companies committed to breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ and ending the gender gap in a sector, such as yours, in which the masculine has always directed and starred in progress and management. Every year, the company holds an event organized and led by its #MujeresHacker, to bring girls closer to the work carried out at Telefónica, making them part of new technologies and invocation. the last event Girls Inspire Tech It was last January, and Pilar, of course, actively participated by giving a Big Data workshop. To close this interview, she confesses to us one of her dreams: “I hope that, shortly, we will have in Telefónica the future #WomenHackers who will revolutionize technology.”
At SamaGame.com, on the occasion of Women’s Day 2020, we have had the pleasure of speaking with more protagonists who are part of Telefónica such as Laura Castela, Laura and Verena, Raquel Fernández, Miguel Arias and Fernando Jérez.
Photography: Valentin Suarez.