Maribel Cortes, IT Technical Project Manager at GE Aviation, understands what it’s like to be a Hispanic female in a male-dominated industry. She also understands that in order to get more Hispanics involved in STEM careers, the community has to take an intentional approach.
Cortes is also a member of the GE Aviation Hispanic Forum and the Cincinnati Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Last year, she was named president for the Cincinnati chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE Cincinnati). We spoke to her about what the business community in Cincinnati is doing to serve as active and visible advocates in the Hispanic business arena.
Tell us about the Cincinnati Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Cortes: The Chamber wants to inspire Hispanic students in elementary, middle and high school to graduate from high school, which can be a challenge. Then we want to inspire them enough to go on to college and enter the pipeline for STEM careers. It is our mission to develop a national network of Hispanic business associations and firms and to expand business opportunities with both public and private sectors.
How does the business community help with this?
Cortes: The Chamber has a monthly meeting in which representatives from big corporations, like GE Aviation or Kroger, join us to talk about inclusion, diversity or what is going on in that specific month in their respective companies. There was a meeting two months ago where the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic chamber, and the regional chamber worked together on an event. We asked the young people, “What can we do to keep you guys here in the region?”
Procter & Gamble has participated in the Hispanic Scholarship Fund since 1986 by funding hundreds of scholarships. They also include a program in which students are brought in to the company to show them where they could be working one day.