“Digital Training Empowers Women” – Meet Mariana Santos, founder of Chicas Poderosas

“Digital Training Empowers Women” - Meet Mariana Santos, founder of Chicas Poderosas

Written by Staff Writer

Sep 28, 2021

To listen to the full podcast, please click here 



Mariana Santos from Lisbon wants to change the world, and is working on it right now. She founded Chicas Poderosas, a non-profit organisation that aims to bring more women into technology. The organisation was founded in Latin America, back in 2013 while she was an ICFJ fellow. Chicas Poderosas is a global community that ignites change by inspiring and developing women in the media and creating opportunities for all voices to be heard.

In this week’s Standard Bank Top Women Podcast, Head of Editorial for Topco Media, Fiona Wakelin, sits down with Mariana Santos to discuss the representation of women and other marginalised communities in the media, and the importance of advocating for different leadership styles. Mariana goes in depth on teaching women to work collaboratively, gender perspectives and social betterment.


Key takeaways to look out for in the podcast: 
  • Traditionally men have been making decisions regarding what topics and agendas receive coverage in the media. This lack of womens’ perspectives needs to be redressed. We need more inclusivity. 
  • The other side of the story needs to be told; taboo topics need to be made more mainstream. A female energy can contribute to telling these other stories, especially online. We must show realties that are not being seen. 
  • Advocacy surrounding leaders and different leadership styles needs to be enhanced. Adopting different leadership methods and attitudes will make room for diversification and bring marginalised communities into frame. 
  • We need to give pioneering women better platforms to make change, uplift and encourage communities and work collaboratively towards a more inclusive society. 
  • Technology is a major asset in all of this. With such innovation, we can get important messages out there. Technology allows women journalists to have a better connection with their audiences.
  • Women need more support in the form of Digital Training – learning how to scrape and find databases and connect with large social networks.
  • Digital events (which have become more popular due to Covid-19) have allowed for larger audiences, providing more women with insight to develop new content and programmes. This creates more access to online courses as well.
  • A huge gender gap still exists in regards to Women’s Rights. We need to be there for women, especially for those who need someone to fight for their rights – we are all entitled to human rights!
  • Oppressive regimes need to be fixed; there is much unfairness in the world that must be redressed. 
  • The power of visualisation and putting out REAL stories has never been more necessary! Desensitisation has been preventing society from facing the ‘ugly’ and becoming active agents in the fight for Women’s Rights.



Mariana Santos runs Chicas Poderosas full time with her team and a board of directors, experts in the different areas of journalism, entrepreneurship, business, innovation and design thinking. She was previously the infographics editor at Olympic Committee Rio in 2016, and was also the Director of Interactive and Animation at Fusion Media. Mariana was also the Knight Innovation Chair at Florida International University during 2015-16. She was a JSK Knight fellow at Stanford in 2015 and a Knight International Journalism Fellow from 2013-14 working all across Latin America in major newsrooms and with independent journalists. 

Mariana Santos is a visual storyteller, who did groundbreaking work as a member of the interactive team at The Guardian in London. A trained animator, she pioneered the newsroom’s use of motion graphics to make data stories more compelling. She leads design thinking workshops to increase multidisciplinary approach to storytelling, and she is a leader in community transformation via digital training.



*For more, check out our bumper 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here

*Stay up to date with all the latest on Top Women in SA, by signing up to the Standard Bank Top Women newsletter – here

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