Photo of Ana Karen Ramirez

Internet & web

Ana Karen Ramirez

Empowering girls and women with online STEM training to close the industry's gender gap.

Year Honored

Epic Queen

Latin America

The statistics are clear: women are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce. This gender gap begins as young girls, due to less access to the Internet and other information technologies than boys. This inequality reduces their computer literacy, which, added to other factors, ultimately results in a gender gap in STEM disciplines: women only accounted for 37.4% of graduates in STEM fields in Latin America in 2016. 

Web designer Ana Karen Ramírez became aware of this problem when she started working at a technology company in 2014. She was the only woman on her team and at the hackathons that she attended. To close this gender gap, this young Mexican woman created the start-up Epic Queen through which she offers educational programs in STEM for girls and women. Thanks to this initiative, MIT Technology Review in Spanish's has selected Ramírez as one of the Innovators under 35 Latin America 2020. 

In addition to fighting inequality in science and technology, Ramírez's educational program can solve another problem: the lack of qualified professionals. The young woman explains that "there are more than 20 million jobs related to STEM and not even with all the students graduating in this sector can the workforce be covered. And even less so if the percentage of female graduates is very low."

The lack of interest in this field among girls tends to occur around the age of 15, explains the innovator, which is why she decided to start working with girls from the age of six. And she concludes: "The future is in STEM. If there are no women in the field, there will be no women in the future."

Epic Queen has already taught more than 280 courses in programming, technology, and science. These courses have had an impact on more than 50,000 girls. With the online platform, any girl and woman can study anything they want related to technologies: from web programming to artificial intelligence. 

Her work has already begun to bear fruit: one of the girls she taught programming came third in a video game creation contest. But her goal goes beyond that. "I want Epic Queen to grow and become the platform where you can say: 'I learned here and Epic Queen changed my future.' I want it to be the place in Latin America to change the lives of millions of people," the young woman explains.

Adriana Suárez Pardo, executive partner of MatterScale Ventures (Colombia) and member of the Innovators under 35 Latin America 2020 jury, describes Epic Queen as "an innovative initiative that seeks to solve a reality of primarily emerging countries." In her opinion, "it is a proposal that is already demonstrating traction and a significant impact on the market." She also praises the "innovative" potential of the start-up and concludes that its "educational proposal offers a combination of hard and soft skills."