Grecia Castaldi is the Program Manager for the Digital Community at Women Who Code. She was born and raised in northern Mexico, in a small town called Monclova, and moved to Monterrey to study college where she is currently living.
What do you love about your city and the country of Mexico?
Monterrey is the second largest city in Mexico. It is an industrial city, full of factories and big companies. It also offers many labor opportunities for everyone. People from all over the country come to live here, and find a good job. Ever since I moved here, all of my friends come from all the states in Mexico, and I have had a chance to learn more about their cultures and places of origin.
Mexico is a diverse country: from the beautiful and touristic beaches, the ruins of Mayans and Aztecs, to the desertic regions and big cities. All of them with their own identity and traditions. I love the beauty of this diversity, you can travel to any city different from your own and will hear different words, a different accent, eat different foods and see a different landscape.
Do you have any favorite traditions in your culture?
I like that many regions, despite modernity and foreign influence, keep their traditions from the indigenous groups they come from. An example is the region “Istmo de Tehuantepec,” in the state of Oaxaca, where they keep their “tehuano” traditional clothing and celebrations. If you go to any of their big parties or “Velas,” all the women will be dressed in their beautiful traditional colorful dresses and men in their elegant shirts.
Also, I really enjoy “Día de Muertos” (Day of the Dead), it's also popular outside of Mexico. This celebration has pre-Hispanic indigenous roots, and then many Catholic people made it part of their religion. It happens on November 2nd and we use this day to remember our friends and family members who have died. We make altars at our homes that include photos of our dead ancestors, and offerings for them such as the foods and drinks they used to like, flowers, paper decorations, and candles. All of this so their souls can come to visit the altar and enjoy the offerings.
The food is an important part, as we usually have “pan de muerto” (bread of dead), a traditional sweet bread, and skull candies, both of which we only make for this celebration. In some parts of Mexico, people like to go to the cemeteries and decorate the graves of their relatives and spend the night there.
It is a beautiful tradition and a date to remember our deceased family members, friends, and even pets with love and fun anecdotes.
What inspired you to be an engineer and pursue a career in tech?
I was always drawn to computers since I was young. My father, being a Mechanical Engineer, was always my role model. I took a part-time job in an internet café when I was in high school, so I can say I became an expert in computers from that time. I then found out that it was the future, and if I wanted to stay relevant and find a good job, I should stay in the tech industry.
How has WWCode and your Network impacted your career?
I joined WWCode in 2015 as a volunteer, when we launched the Monterrey local network, and soon after I became a Director. I had always considered myself a feminist and knew about the issues women have in the tech industry, and it became the best way for me to do something about it. We were able to grow a great community of female engineers in Monterrey during my time as a Director, I made many valuable contacts and true friendships. My greatest accomplishment was to be able to connect women with each other so they could start great projects, get better jobs or find amazing opportunities for themselves.
Personally speaking, I received many benefits being a member and a volunteer: from getting scholarships to online courses, the opportunity to travel to amazing in-person events such as Women Who Code CONNECT, and getting to meet all the awesome directors from all over the world. Finally, being part of WWCode gave me an opportunity to apply for a full-time role in the company that I have been so close to, and its mission truly resonates with me.
What are you most proud of as a Hispanic woman in tech?
I believe that there is so much talent in Latin America, but sometimes women don’t get enough opportunities or don’t have role models in tech. They usually look for companies or role models in the U.S. or other countries, and the language can be a barrier for them.
But recently, I am seeing a change. Thanks to the different Women Who Code networks around Mexico and other Latin American countries, female engineers are getting more and more technical content in their own language, and they are meeting amazing women who can be their role models.
The companies are getting more interested in recruiting more women and being diverse and inclusive. I’ve given a few talks in conferences regarding Diversity and Inclusion, and I always get good feedback and interest from people who don't know much about the topic but want to start applying it into their companies.
I am proud that Hispanic women are getting more opportunities, and even more now with the convenience of remote work.
Any advice for other women in the industry?
I would tell them not to be scared of being the only woman in a team or a room. Keep speaking loud about what they need so companies and teams can ensure a safe environment and an organizational culture that helps them keep growing and learning. Also, joining a community is always a good idea. Joining a Women Who Code network or track (or any other community) will not only help them learn technical skills, but also to have a group where everyone will be supportive and they will be safe to ask any question or for the mentorship they need.