On the frame of the International Women's Day that is commemorated on March 8, the Tecnológico de Monterrey, one of the best universities of Latin American, located in Mexico, invited students, former students, collaborators, teachers, or managers to participate in the Tec Woman Award and to apply in any of the categories to recognize his career and contributions, the categories were:
- Transforming power
- Health & Wellness
- Citizenship with a gender perspective
- # She4She
- Art and Cultural Management
- Sport and Sports Management
The award ceremony was held on March 8, 2021 in online format on the digital platforms of the Tecnológico de Monterrey. I interviewed some of the winners to know more about their achievements and their contributions to their communities in Mexico.
Karla Andrea González Rodríguez, Founder and Director of Bodega Cero, a supermarket with more than 600 products: natural, biodegradable, and free of packaging disposable. Lecturer at the Prepa Tec in the International Baccalaureate. Named Climate Reality Leader from The Climate Reality Project. Member of the Ecological Committee Interscholastic. Environmental activist and consultant in sustainability.
Where does this idea come from? What was your motivation to found your business Bodega Cero?
I've always been passionate about sustainability. I had the opportunity to major in that topic and my first work experience was an office sustainability coordinator. There I realized that while management approved the projects, I was designing to try to make the office more water and energy efficient, I could work with my colleagues to make them adopt more eco-friendly habits. I gave workshops and had infinite conversations with them about how our everyday life choices and activities could improve to have less impact on the environment, such as reusing a coffee mug, do not print excessive emails, basic office things. Personally, I had taken many steps, such as having a plant-based diet and a low waste life. This last one at the time (around 2015) was not impossible but as easy to achieve since most package free products were not accessible. I made a huge effort that involved contacting local producers and going almost off-road to find these products (such as a shampoo bar, a reusable razor) and tried infinite recipes (such as a deodorant). I knew I was willing to make that extra effort but if it is not accessible for more people, it will still be a reason not to try. After that first job experience, I took a job as a high school teacher. In it my students always shared the enthusiasm for acting and reducing their impact, but again, when it came to waste generation, they said that since those things (referring to low waste products) were not accessible in their city, that they simply could not do it. This led me to convince me that people were willing to reduce their waste and overall impact, but they needed a place to find everything together. So, I thought, if I create this place, then more people will take action, and that's all I wanted! So that's all it took to convince me to build my business.
Latin America is full of talented women that face a glass ceiling. You are from Mexico, what message would you say to those women in our region?
It's important for us to realize that we play a key role in the solutions needed for our environment and overall, to sustainable development. No problem is going to be solved if only half the population is considered. We have the leadership to create those integral, holistic, and inclusive solutions to the most pressing issues such as water availability, waste generation and of course, climate change. We have proved it time and time again. So, I would say to all women in my region, you are needed. Don't ever underestimate your power of influence despite whatever "business-as-usual" management/directors/people might tell you. Your actions have so much power and there are many young women and girls looking up for you!
What does it mean to you, to have awarded with the prize MUJER TEC 2021? Tell us more about your experience.
Incredibly humbling, to be honest. When you work in something because you're passionate and want to see a change in the world you don't often expect to receive a prize for it. This prize means so much, especially in this category, because I'm convinced, by personal experience and also by historical evidence, that women have led and continue to lead the solutions to these key issues in sustainability. The environmental movement itself was founded by a woman and so much of the biggest fights and achievements have been led by inspiring women. So, receiving this prize is a huge way to recognize the work I've done to be part of those fights and solutions, and an even bigger motivator to keep working on them.
Women for the Future, it is an association that promotes participation of girls and women in science and engineering, to reduce the gender gap and eliminate stereotypes in this area, all this through workshops and conferences that have had impact in Mexico, Guatemala, United States, Brazil, and France. They have participated in different events and collaborated with institutions, nonprofit organizations, and private companies.
Where does this idea come from? What was your motivation to start with WOMEN FOR THE FUTURE?
The principal motivation was that it did not exist an exclusively female community in science, technology, and engineering within the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Guadalajara campus. The aim was to generate an empowerment and sisterhood group that serves as a support for current and future students and represents female participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) areas. It is fundamental to make women scientists visible. In this way, girls and young women can identify themselves and choose their university careers freely. The small number of female models is one of the main factors that increase the gender gap within STEM areas. With this, we seek to break the stereotypes related to these areas of study.
What message would you say to young girls in Latin America, who don´t know what to study?
First of all, the main thing for choosing a college career is to choose something that you are passionate about because it will be your job for the rest of your life. Second, we recommend keeping an open mind about knowing different options. Look for all the information to learn the necessary aspects and if it is possible, take a workshop related to your main options, in which you can have a first-hand experience about what you would do when you finish your degree. Third, the changes, the university, the paperwork, and the adaptation to the new rhythm of life can make you feel a bit overwhelmed. Despite the fear that you may feel, dare to do things. Feeling fear is something completely normal that all people experience and is part of our nature as humans.
What does it mean to you to have been awarded with the award, MUJER TEC 2021? Tell us more about your experience.
It is something for which we are very proud. We see it as a fruit that has given the effort of our entire work team. It means that our actions are on the right track. Obtaining the award has given a lot of visibility to the project. It has favored us and has brought the support of many people. Some of them are even from outside of the institution. The award itself is not only a recognition for us. Otherwise, the prize is also a recognition for women that have paved the way for us to enjoy the rights we have today. Besides, it carries the commitment and responsibility to continue improving our work to achieve our goals.