How an Android developer in Guatemala advocates for women through the Google Developer Groups community

MAR 28, 2022

Posted by Rodrigo Akira Hirooka, Regional Lead, Latin America

Woman in white shirt with long straight hair
      standing and smiling with a giant Android logo robot

Getting acquainted with Android career options

Cecilia Castillo loves mobile development. She’s confident that she’d be happy focusing on it for the rest of her career. Cecilia’s career in mobile development began when her friend Adrian Catalan (Director of the Innovation Lab at Galileo University), launched a Google Developer Groups (GDG) chapter in Guatemala and began to teach Android courses.

Up until that point, Cecilia had used technologies like ASPX and Ruby on Rails – and was no stranger to technical concepts, having studied computer science at Galileo University in Guatemala and earned a Master’s degree in information technology, but she was also itching to learn something new in a supportive environment. That’s when she attended a locally organized GDG event. “ I got more involved in GDG meetups and helped organize them, and I learned how to code in Android.”

Woman with long straight hair holding a
      microphone standing in front of a projector screen giving a presentation

“Mobile experiences are often the first interaction people have with a product or service. An experience on mobile can determine whether someone will love it or hate it, and I think that is a big responsibility and a privilege.”

2013: a pivotal year of community leadership

In time, she found the GDG community helped her feel a sense of camaraderie in the LATAM tech community and in 2013, Cecilia decided to attend Google I/O. She found it “life-changing,” she says, and loved being able to share her enthusiasm for mobile development with more people from all over the world.

That very year, Cecilia began helping plan International Women’s Day back home in Guatemala and helped run the first International Women’s Day (IWD) event there. “It was the start of something exciting. I was always passionate about creating spaces where other women could share their experiences, their talents, and everything technical they were learning,” she says.

She says IWD events make it possible for her to meet women from all over the world who are doing interesting work in technology. In addition, Cecilia says International Women’s Day events and GDG groups create momentum around the idea that women are tech experts and leaders.

Inspiring other female leaders and improving the local programs

Cecilia says she and her planning team try to make their IWD event bigger and better every year, making sure to invite a combination of new speakers and women with more experience who have been giving talks and working in tech for a while.

The Innovation Lab at Galileo University now supports the two-day virtual event, which occurred on March 11-12 this year. This year’s event included student-focused programming to encourage prospective developers to pursue tech careers or apply tech to their interests. Around 70 speakers participated, some from different countries in Latin America and others from Guatemala.

Blue graphic advertising an International
      Women's Day Event hosted in Guatemala

Cecilia says the university has played an important role to help the GDG chapter achieve its goal of more visibility and reaching a broader audience. Furthermore, Celicila recognized that Evelyn Cruz, lead of the Engineering Education Group at Galileo University, has been instrumental during the planning process.

Looking ahead to new opportunities

“I think it is important to create moments and spaces where we can celebrate and spotlight all the amazing things women are doing,” says Cecilia. “By being part of a bigger network like GDG, we also get to know and learn from talented women from all over Latin America and the world.

Woman in white shirt with long straight
      hair standing and smiling with a giant Android logo robot

“The GDG community offers a very diverse group of people, and I think this diversity of countries, companies, and expertise adds value for anyone who is involved in these communities.”

Developing those initial Android skills has paid off, as Castillo now serves as a co-organizer for Google Developer Group (GDG) in Guatemala, holds a position as a Women Techmakers ambassador, and works as a Senior Mobile Engineer at PayPal. In this role she works on both Android and iOS platforms and she’s now giving back to the community in so many ways.

Learn more about Google Developer Groups and how to join or start one near you here.