Post-Conference Press Release

On August 20th, 2022, women from 18 countries gathered for the staging of the virtual and inaugural Women in Tech Caribbean (WiTC) Conference. In keeping with the theme of #WeAreWITC, there was a strong showing of talented and trailblazing Caribbean women in tech as 12 Caribbean countries were represented at the conference.

The keynote speaker, Ingrid Riley of Silicon Caribe, kicked off the conference as she passionately shared how we can future-proof the Caribbean through tech entrepreneurship and investment. According to Ingrid, “Women control US $36 trillion in total wealth [as] they make 70% of all major financial decisions for themselves and their families,” and she stressed that “the number one way to future-proof the Caribbean through tech entrepreneurship and investments is by women betting on themselves and betting on each other.” She delivered a call to action for every Caribbean woman to consider what steps they can take to support each other’s endeavours and work towards the advancement of the Caribbean region.

Our dynamic host Gillian Parague guided and facilitated well needed conversations, Q&A segments and giveaways throughout the day. Speakers from all over the Caribbean and the diaspora shared important and heartfelt pieces of advice while conference attendees found a space to discuss their projects, beliefs, plans and knowledge. Some common themes throughout the day were that “you don’t have to start in tech to be in tech,” and that “your Caribbean heritage should be celebrated everywhere you go”. Such themes highlighted by multiple speakers encouraged participants to accept every element of their background and to intentionally show up as their authentic selves every day in and out of the workplace.

Overall, the first ever WiTC Conference was a success, and could not have been possible without the kind generosity of several sponsors and partners. WiTC would like to thank our sponsors: GSD Solutions, capSpire Inc, Visual Tech Solutions Ltd, and ImpactWhit for sponsoring this year’s conference, as well as our partners: Caribbean Girls Hack, Coding Black Females, Women Techmakers and Digital Jamaica for supporting the community during the staging of this event.  We would also like to thank our Conference Team and volunteers for working behind the scenes to produce, organize and market this event.

The WiTC conference will be hosted annually with a continued lineup of dynamic speakers of Caribbean heritage. Stay tuned to our social media pages to find out when recordings will be available. For more information about the conference and speakers, and for updates about future conferences, visit www.witc-conference.com.

Women in Tech Caribbean is an online community aimed at connecting self-identifying Caribbean women in the tech space at home and in the diaspora. It is a safe-space for over 250 members from 46+ Caribbean countries to network, share opportunities, ideas, jobs, and more. Follow WiTC at www.womenintechcaribbean.com, on Instagram or on LinkedIn for the latest updates.

Press Release: Women in Tech Caribbean Conference 2022

On August 20, 2022, the Women in Tech Caribbean Community (WiTC) will bring together amazing women in tech and tech adjacent fields for the inaugural WiTC conference. This one-day virtual conference will feature empowering keynotes, breakout sessions and thought-stimulating panel discussions on topics that are specific to the Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora communities. The conference will be held under the theme “WeAreWiTC”. This theme underscores that we, women of Caribbean heritage, are here making confident strides in tech all over the world. We are here and we are amplifying our voices.

The goals of the conference are to:

  • Provide opportunities for the diaspora and local communities to connect and collaborate,
  • Facilitate necessary conversations that connect, shape and grow female tech talent and
  • Expand community and build awareness of Caribbean women in tech

The conference will target women tech professionals who reside within the Caribbean and the diaspora, Caribbean students who are studying Computer Science or a tech related major and want to work in the tech industry, and tech community supporters who want to change and influence the local tech ecosystem.

Women in Tech Caribbean is a Slack community aimed at connecting self-identifying Caribbean women in the tech space at home and in the diaspora. It is a safe space for members to network, share opportunities, ideas, jobs, and more, especially during our monthly networking calls. Our community currently has over 250 members from all over the Caribbean, including but not limited to Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados. With a total of 46 countries represented in our community, we host events such as our Speaker Series to keep our members informed on relevant topics no matter where they are in the world. Our primary goal is to be the central avenue for Caribbean women in tech to create and share opportunities while providing a space for members to connect locally and across the diaspora.

We are grateful for the generosity of our sponsors and partner organizations who have contributed to the inaugural WiTC conference and we encourage additional organizations and individuals to reach out to sponsor or donate to the event! For more information on how you can get involved, please see the links below.

How to Get Started in Tech

Starting your tech career can seem daunting, especially if you’re transitioning from a different field or if you’re pursuing your very first career. Additionally, the tech industry is still male-dominated as women hold only 25% of computing roles in the US and 45.2% of science and technology research roles in Latin America and the Caribbean. Regardless of what the industry currently looks like, there is always room for more women in tech. So, here are a few tips to consider when trying to start your tech career.

Do your research. Before jumping into a tech role, you should explore different areas of technology and pursue the one that interests you the most. Sometimes, we may be eager to get started, and we choose to settle for any role, but it’s important to take your interests into consideration before starting your career. A technology career should be rewarding, and since technology is a broad industry, doing some research will help you to discover which path best aligns with your interests. You have to learn about the possibilities and decide if the duties of a software engineer, cybersecurity specialist, data scientist or technology consultant would be suitable for you. Here’s a short list of tech career options that currently exist. These are just a few examples of technology roles, but there’s a wide array of career paths that you can choose from based on what you like and what you want to be an expert in.

Practice makes (almost) perfect. When you figure out which path you’d like to take, seek opportunities to keep learning and exploring that path because technology is not stagnant. There will always be new discoveries and inventions, so you must keep abreast with the latest developments in your field and stay sharp. Take the initiative to work on your own projects, read books, watch YouTube videos, participate in bootcamps/training sessions and just keep practicing as often as you can. It’s also helpful if you work on projects that excite you. If the projects feel more like chores, you won’t be motivated to do them, so feel free to be creative. You can also participate in competitions such as hackathons which present real-world use-cases that you can build projects for. In many cases, practice serves as a substitute for years of formal experience and education, so it’s one of the most important things to do when you’re trying to get your foot in the door.

Show off. Once you start practicing, build your portfolio. You should have a collection of your projects that show off your skills so that potential employers or clients can see your work and trust that you can do the job. There are many routes you can take to build your portfolio including GitHub, a personal website, LinkedIn and more. Pick one or more methods that suit you and keep adding to your portfolio as you learn new skills. It’s also necessary to create a good resume that showcases your strengths if you are seeking employment. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and market yourself professionally.

Leverage your soft skills. For technical careers, you’ll need more than just tech skills. Your communication skills are just as important as you may have to work with non-technical employees, communicate ideas or explain any software issues to others. Additionally, if you have good presentation, conflict resolution or documentation skills, you can use them to complement your technical expertise and stand out from the crowd. If you are organized or if you have strong leadership qualities, all of these will come in handy as you start your career and think about your long term advancement. Networking is another useful skill that helps beginners to find opportunities. Don’t be intimidated by others who have been in the industry longer than you have. Instead, you can reach out to them and have discussions or even ask questions that could help you to get started. Many of us in the tech space are introverted, so this can seem very frightening, but talking to others who are already where you would like to be can help you to find guidance and potential opportunities that you would not have had otherwise.

Personal Branding. What is your personal brand? This is something to think about as you start marketing yourself as a tech professional. Are you someone who wants to use technology to help the less fortunate? Do you want to work in a niche industry? Do you prefer to have the freedom to use your creativity in the projects that you work on? Ask yourself what you would like your brand to be and find communities or organizations that can help you to build that brand.

Getting started in tech might seem difficult if you are completely new to the field. As you work on your craft, there will be great days where you feel like you’re on top of the world, and there will be days when you might start doubting yourself. It’s important that you never compare yourself to others because everyone is on their own journey and we all have to start somewhere. The 5 tips in this blog, along with perseverance and self-confidence are the keys to taking control of your tech career.

Celebrating Girls and Women in ICT

Last month, we celebrated Girls in ICT Day under the theme of “Access & Safety.” In a statement made by UN Women on April 28, 2022, we were reminded that “every girl has a right to be connected and safe, and to play her part in shaping a more equal, green and tech-driven future.” There is no doubt that when exposed to technology, girls can grow up to be talented women in the tech workforce (if they choose), and that they bring their own perspectives and experiences that help to shape new technology. However, we need to ensure that our girls have access to digital tools that are safe and available to them so that they can reach their full potential. We also need to ensure that when women contribute to new tools, they are recognized and given the credit that they deserve. Today, we want to highlight 5 women in tech who have done their part in paving the way for us. They are not Caribbean women, but their contributions have inspired and made it possible for many of us to pursue careers in tech.

Number 1 is Ada Lovelace, a writer, mathematician and the daughter of a poet who lived in the 1800s. Ada was always good at mathematics and eventually met a man named Charles Babbage who designed the analytical engine – a machine for which she wrote notes that served as the first computer program. Ada recognized that the analytical engine had more potential than its original intent which was to be just a general purpose calculator. Her notes were the foundation for what we now call algorithms. We celebrate Ada Lovelace, well-known as the world’s very first computer programmer!

Our second pioneering woman in tech is Katherine Johnson.

She was an African-American mathematician who worked at NASA where she helped to make the first and subsequent flights to space successful. Although she mastered the art of solving complex calculations manually, she also helped to pioneer the use of computers to solve such problems.

Because of her unique mathematical capabilities, she was known as a “human computer.” Johnson is well-decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Silver Snoopy Award, NASA Group Achievement Award, the 2019 Congressional Gold Medal and induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. We celebrate Katherine Johnson for her remarkable accomplishments!

Hedy Lamarr is said to be one of the greatest actresses of all time, but she is also known for her contribution to foundational technology that led to the invention of Wi-Fi. She was an only child with a keen interest in understanding how machines worked. Lamarr always had an inventive spirit and as World War II was looming, she worked with George Antheil to develop a new communication system that could guide torpedoes to their targets in war. The system was a radio guidance system in which frequency hopping was used to prevent radio wave interception. This work laid the foundation for Bluetooth and GPS technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of Wi-Fi. Although she received recognition for her acting roles, it wasn’t until her later years that she received any awards for her invention. Lamar was the first woman to receive the Invention Convention’s Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award and she was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame after she died. We celebrate Hedy Lamarr, well-known as “the mother of Wi-Fi”.

Karen Sparck-Jones is known as The Pioneer in Information Science. She was a British computer scientist who developed the concept of inverse document frequency (IDF) which is the underlying technology in most search engines. She combined statistics with linguistics to establish formulas that laid the foundation for how computers could interpret relationships between words, and this is the basis for modern search engines. Jones has worked in automatic language and information processing research since the late 1950s, and has received several awards for her research including, the ACL Lifetime Achievement Award, the BCS Lovelace Medal and the ACM-AAAI Allen Newell Award. In her lifetime, she was an advocate for women to get involved in tech, stating, “I think it’s very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men.” She dedicated her life to research and continued to contribute to computer science until her death in 2007. We celebrate Karen Sparck-Jones, the Pioneer in Information Science!

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller was a Roman Catholic sister, educator and computer science leader. While she professed her vows with the Order of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she was also known for her involvement and accomplishments in tech. She studied mathematics and physics and was the very first person to earn a Ph.D. in computer science in the United States. Sister Mary Kenneth Keller was a trailblazer and advocate for education. She was one of the founders of the Association of Small Computer Users in Education (ASCUE), an organization that advocates for the use of technology in education. One of her famous quotes is that “We’re having an information explosion . . . , and it’s certainly obvious that information is of no use unless it’s available.” With this ideology, Sister Keller worked tirelessly to expand the reach of computer science and computers. She believed that technology had the potential to serve as an instructive tool, and she worked to ensure equal access to computing for all. We celebrate Sister Mary Kenneth Keller!

The stories of these trailblazing women in tech make it evident that there is no rule book for what a woman in tech should be or should look like. Women who come from various backgrounds and possess a variety of talents, skills and interests can still make lasting impacts in the world of technology. All we have to do is ensure that women and girls have the right access to technology and they can forge their own paths in their own ways. Although Girls in ICT Day has already passed, we celebrate girls and women in tech all day, every day!

Spotlight Saturday: Sara Bernard

Meet Sara Bernard – a reflective, strategic, analytical, and future-focused woman from Trinidad and Tobago. Sara has years of experience in the Oil and Gas industry, and a BSc in Chemical and Process Engineering. She took a calculated risk and transitioned into the tech field where she is now building her legacy and creating impactful solutions in her home country as a Data Scientist. Sara is the CEO and Co-Founder of Smart Kids Educational Club – an organization based in Trinidad that facilitates the use of technology for innovation among young children and teens. This is her story.

When Sara ponders on how she would like to remember her life, she thinks about the legacy she would leave for her country and her children. Her frequent thoughts about this prompted her to leave behind a perfectly lucrative and comfortable career in engineering to pursue entrepreneurship. Sara transitioned from one career to another so that she could use what she gained from her first successful career to make a positive impact in her community that she could be proud of.

Sara always excelled at Mathematics and initially wanted to be a Mathematics teacher, but her mother, who was a teacher herself, was not fond of the idea. With guidance from her father, she chose to study Chemical & Process Engineering at The University of the West Indies due to the booming Oil & Gas sector in Trinidad & Tobago. For 15 years, Sara worked at a premiere oil & gas company that invested in her development as an engineer and supervisor. She decided to switch careers to Data Science because it was more along the lines of what she was always passionate about – Mathematics. Sara always wanted to do math all day long, and 25 years ago, she was ignorant to the fact that there are more options in natural sciences than just teaching and research. One of the biggest lessons that she has learned is that it’s never too late to find your passion and switch careers.

In pursuit of her true passion, Sara co-founded Smart Kids Educational Club. She believes that technology has the unique ability to change Trinidad and Tobago’s dependency on the oil & gas industry which she considers a dwindling non-renewable resource. She believes that with Smart Kids, children can start using technology to innovate which will, in turn, create a reservoir of tech talent in T&T. Sara is currently working on a project called Stay in STEM (SIS) by Smart Kids. It is a 4 to 7 year free afterschool program for Caribbean girls to develop advanced digital skills. When they leave the program they will not only have a solid foundation in Python, HTML and JavaScript, but they will have countless STEM projects under their belt and a community of mentors, peers and allies to support them throughout their STEM careers. The SIS program was developed on the fundamental ideas that developing digital literacy is a process, not a one-day or short term event, and that when women get into male-dominated fields, they lack organic support structures. In her own words, “Our girls need skills, which take months and years to develop. You need to introduce simple concepts then build more complex ideas upon it. Students then need time and space to practice what they’ve learnt…. We also need to create frameworks for women to support one another. And so the SIS program will focus on developing community-building skills and a network pipeline.” Sara and her team are actively looking for funding for the program which will cost $1,200 USD per year or $100 USD per month per student/year. One of the things Sara recognized later in her career is why women don’t succeed in STEM. She said, “It’s not because men are holding us down, but because no one is lifting us up. The best thing you can do for yourself as a woman in a STEM field is to build a network. For example, I asked a senior female engineer to be my mentor. I didn’t wait for one to be assigned to me. I started a women’s group and got conversations going about the challenges we faced. The lesson learned is that Women need support structures (community) to Stay in STEM fields.” This is the kind of support the SIS program will provide.

In addition to her own ventures, Sara has assisted others with advancing their projects in the last year. She believes in the importance of finding others with similar values and supporting them in achieving their goals. Two such projects are Recess by Kelly-Ann Bethel and MVP by Zed Labs. Recess is a virtual reality app that helps entrepreneurs and high performers improve their performance, while MVP is a free local coding bootcamp for youth. Although these are not her personal projects, Sara has been able to lend her expertise to other entrepreneurs through financial investment or drafting pitch decks or any other manner in which she can assist.

Sara shared that the thing that excites her the most about her line of work is learning something new every day. Because she is new to data science and because it is a relatively new field, there is still so much to learn and there is also the additional excitement of the unknown, like which trajectory her career will take. However, as someone who struggles to maintain a good work-life balance, Sara strongly emphasizes the importance of having an intimate community with like-minded people that challenge you to be the best version of yourself. She believes that it’s imperative that we all have networks with whom we can share our personal and professional goals. Her networks hold her accountable and challenge her to be a better mom, person and entrepreneur.


Her advice to women is that it has never been easier to switch to a career in tech. In addition to a traditional (expensive) masters degree, there are many more affordable options like coding courses, bootcamps and certifications. She also advises women that they don’t have to be a Math whiz to switch because there are many jobs in tech, and with a little research, they can find which discipline suits them best. Sara shared that it’s important that you don’t discard the credentials and expertise you’ve developed over the past 5 to 30 years even if they are non-technical skills. She advises young girls to find a strategy that they like and go for it because there is no wrong path. She stresses that if you end up working in a job you don’t like, it’s a valuable learning experience that will help you make better decisions later in life.

To keep up with Sara’s projects and ventures, follow her on Instagram at @databysara. If you want to know more about switching careers, digital skills and data science then follow her on any of your preferred online platforms. If you are interested in getting your child digital skills or you have funding for the Stay in STEM program for girls then visit www.smartkidsclubtt.com or email Sara at sara@smartkidsclubtt.com.

A Crypto Caribbean Future

Last month, SiliconCaribe, the leading producer of Caribbean Tech Events, hosted its first annual conference dubbed the Future of Caribbean Money (FOCMNY). This was a two-day hybrid (virtual and in-person) event for sharing stories and advice about how Caribbean entrepreneurs and individuals can leverage digital currencies, blockchain, and NFTs to make, manage and invest their own money. Speakers at the event were based in the English, Spanish and French-speaking Caribbean, as well as the US and the UK. They shared relevant insights and hosted masterclasses to educate participants on the emerging trends in cryptocurrency and its contribution to wealth creation in the Caribbean. The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas and a supporter of the crypto revolution, was one of the speakers at the event, where he applauded the organisers and expressed his hope to see more Caribbean entrepreneurs thriving in the fintech industry.

The founder of SiliconCaribe, Ingrid Riley, also happens to be part of the Women in Tech Caribbean Community and shared some insights into why she and her team from SiliconCaribe decided to co-ordinate this event. In her own words, she said, “I’m always tracking trends and the people driving them, and we tend to look on the fringes of what is emerging and find the best people to communicate what this means for Caribbean people and businesses.

Crypto has been floating around in the Caribbean Tech Ecosystem [since] a Bitcoin was just USD $25 and USD $100. The developers were being paid in Bitcoin by their international clients and others were investing from very early. The pandemic accelerated everything Digital and Bitcoin, and Cryptocurrencies started to make more noise in certain places, so I wanted to create an event series around it. So FOCMNY is not our first. We, at SiliconCaribe, produced Jamaica’s first crypto and blockchain event on Jan 31st, 2018. It was sold out. Future of Caribbean Money Conference is picking up from where that left off.

That said, us producing the Future of Caribbean Money Conference was about how we get the best people in the Caribbean and Diaspora plus the International experts in our network to share what they know and see in Fintech, E-commerce and Cryptocurrencies. There is a fundamental shift of our financial system happening globally. There is a global abundance of business and career opportunities at our finger tips if Caribbean people and businesses take the time to learn, connect and act.

Further, FOMCNY is on mission and on brand. You see, SiliconCaribe is an independent media and events business. It’s about amplifying the people, ideas and businesses driving the rise of the Caribbean Digital Economy and to educate and inspire the next generation of Caribbean entrepreneurs and innovators. We do that by providing Business & Tech News & Insights about and for Caribbean Entrepreneurs building brands and businesses in the Digital Economy.”

We also asked Ingrid how quickly she thought Caribbean leaders and entrepreneurs would embrace cryptocurrencies as legal tender. She responded, “Legal tender? I don’t know if that will ever happen to be honest, but who knows? What I think will happen sooner is that the fast-growing Caribbean people using crypto to invest, raise money, send remittances, etc. will move Caribbean governments to integrate it into our current and changing financial system and build a regulatory framework that enables people and businesses to continue to invest in it, trade it, and build businesses around it. Cryptocurrencies are going nowhere; it’s a USD $3 Trillion dollar industry with over 300 million people globally using various aspects of it. In fact, check out a blog post that I just wrote :Top 8 Caribbean Crypto Countries and the #1 industry that’s being disrupted.”

As they celebrate 15 years of excellence this February, Ingrid mentioned that SiliconCaribe will be adding more content around Caribbean Crypto News and Insights on their blog, in their newsletter and on their podcast. There will also be a second staging of the Future of Caribbean Money Conference in November as well as other exciting projects in the crypto space. To learn more about last month’s FOCMNY event, and to keep abreast with future editions, visit www.futureofcaribbeanmoney.com.

Spotlight Saturday: Sowmya Thottambeti

Our first Spotlight Saturday gives us an opportunity to learn more about one of our Women in Tech Caribbean members, Sowmya Thottambeti. She hails from The Bahamas and describes herself as a vivacious, free-spirited woman, a highly sociable introvert and an adrenaline junkie at heart. Sowmya’s professional background is in software and data engineering. However, she did not always want to pursue this career path. She originally had a keen interest in connecting things and building physical products, so she pursued her education in electronics and telecommunications. It was not until her first internship that she started to fall in love with programming, as she noticed how she was still able to build and connect things, although it was in a different way than what she had planned.

As a Software Engineer who currently works at Nike, Sowmya is fueled by the value and impact she brings to people in the things that she creates. When asked to describe her typical day as a Nike Software Engineer, Sowmya shared that after daily standup meetings, she spends most of her day writing and testing code while listening to her favourite music. Her days don’t always look the same, so when she’s not coding, she sometimes takes a stroll in the employee store after a heavy meal, meets with a colleague or participates in office activities. She ends each day with a “pumped gym session” and finally leaves the office with a “sweaty red face!” The Nike work culture ensures that there is never a dull day at the office.

Sowmya has worked on many projects over the years, and one of her favourite projects entailed working on the content management tool which creates webpages for Nike.com. It was enlightening for her to see the behind-the-scenes processes for what millions of users see every day. Another one of her favourite projects was a monitoring system used to track the quality of water in public reservoirs. These projects are special to her because she enjoys working on impactful solutions and as an engineer, it brings her great joy when she sees people using something that she has worked on. Currently, Sowmya is working on a project that will tackle the service industry within The Bahamas and shed more light on local businesses. A minimal viable product will be launched this year (2022), and it will be her first project of this calibre. Apart from working on these projects, she is most excited about the countless opportunities to innovate and solve pressing issues in the tech industry. She indicated that digital technologies are actively addressing several concerns presented in the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. Thus, her enthusiasm comes from creating inclusive technologies with high societal impact.

Like many young professionals, Sowmya has experienced her fair share of challenges, such as the Imposter Syndrome. She shared that surrounding herself with personable and encouraging people who serve as inspiration and companions, has been helpful throughout this journey. Although working as a young tech professional can be demanding, Sowmya emphasizes the importance of a good work-life balance. She has hobbies, friends, and other things that she loves to do that aren’t related to technology. These things remind her that there is an entire domain out there outside of her everyday occupation, and she advises other young professionals to find something that brings them joy and keeps them moving and balanced. 

To young girls interested in pursuing a software engineering career, Sowmya’s advice is to constantly probe various subject matters, ask questions and to find a mentor. She remarked that “it serves immense value to have someone who has been there done that and can give sound advice on your future career. When I first started university, I was confused about everything. All that I know now is from trial and error. If I had someone to guide me, things would have been a lot easier.”

Sowmya enjoys connecting with others, so if you would like to connect with her or follow her journey, you can find her and reach out to her on social media — Instagram (@scottie.poppin) & Twitter (@thottambeti_).