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Grown From STEM: October Edition - Women & Hi Tech Celebrates “Equity and Inclusion” in 20th Year of The Leading Light Awards

10/30/2020 8:02 AM | Anonymous

Dear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supports and Friends,

October has been an exciting month for Women & Hi Tech! We kicked the month off with our signature biennial celebration, the Leading Light Awards and Scholarship Gala (LLAs), held on October 1st, 2020. This first-ever Virtual LLAs was the 20th anniversary of the first gala, originally called the Spotlight Awards, and it was a night to remember. "Equity & Inclusion" was the theme of the evening. Women & Hi Tech was honored, alongside almost 400 virtual guests, to celebrate and recognize 13 esteemed Indiana STEM professionals with Leading Light Awards. Honorees included the inaugural and honorary recipients of our two new awards, the Equity and Inclusion Champion and the OperationALL™ Male Allies Leading Light Awards. We were also beyond delighted to help pave the way for future generations of female STEM leaders by awarding over $50,000 in scholarship and grants to young ladies and women in Indiana pursuing a STEM degree or certification. To see a full list of all award, scholarship, and grant recipients and to watch a recording of the 2020 Virtual LLAs, please visit: 2020 Leading Light Awards Recap and Legacy, https://womenandhitech.org/Blog/9320657.

After the Leading Light Awards and Scholarship Gala, we were excited to participate in the Third All-IT Leadership Community Webinar with IT Leaders Indianapolis and the Indy CIO Network. The virtual panel of IT leaders examined the challenges and solutions for the accelerated rate of change in our organizations and the unique opportunities we now have. We were also delighted to be included in Code Café's virtual event, See Yourself in Tech: Get Involved – Tech Equity, Opportunity, and Access. The virtual panel focused on helping us find our place in the local tech ecosystem, the actionable steps each of us can take to get involved, ways to support equitable access, and advice for taking your first or next step in the tech workforce.

As we close out October, Women & Hi Tech hosted our final Executive Women's Forum for 2020 – Flipping the Script of Racism and Women in STEM: The Journey to Equity. Our phenomenal moderator and panelists armed us with data and statistics regarding women's disparity, especially diverse women in the STEM fields. They also authentically shared their journeys of being African American women in STEM and how being both a woman and an African American presents unique challenges. For example, the panelists discussed the Black Wealth Gap, which demonstrates the wage gap between Caucasian women and African American women and other diverse women. It also brings to light that even collegiate education does not create equity or provide the same advantageous outcomes for all. Learning that the "median white adult who dropped out of high school has 70% more wealth than the median Black adult with some college education" highlights the disparate outcomes that result when institutions and systems are inequitable. We must do better.

While we began October recognizing and celebrating advancements and positive impacts towards equity and inclusion – we know that much work lies ahead for real equity and inclusion for all. I couldn't be more pleased that Women & Hi Tech ended October providing a forum for discussion and actionable steps each of us can take to do our part to continue to break down systemic and systematic racism and create equity and inclusion for all in the STEM fields and beyond. In case you missed it you can view the full recording of Flipping the Script on Racism and Women in STEM: A Journey to Equity as well as download a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resource guide

For your consideration, I will also offer that in honor of National Women's Small Business month, an action we can each take to advance equity and inclusion for all is to find a way to support local diverse, women-owned small businesses. National Women's Small Business Month takes place each year during October. This is an opportune time to recognize the myriad of achievements of our country's female entrepreneurs and the positive impact they are making on jobs and the economy.

You can visit Indy.gov Office of Minority & Women-Owned Business Development to find almost 800 Minority, Women, Veteran, or Disability-owned businesses certified by the City of Indianapolis-Marion County. Also, Visit Indy has compiled a list of some of the fantastic African American owned restaurants in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas (Paleo Soul and Chef Oya's The TRAP are two of my favorites). Visit Indy African American-Owned Eateries.

In this 22nd edition of "Grown from STEM," we are excited to invite you to learn more about our Communications Director, Lori Boyer, and our dedicated member, Kat Howenstein. While they have very different roles, both are incredibly successful in the STEM field of application development. Both Lori and Kat are champions for diversity, equity and inclusion and share with us the importance of volunteerism and finding and building a community of acceptance, inclusion, and support – especially being a woman in a male-dominated field. We are thrilled each of them has found just that in Women & Hi Tech! Please read more about Lori and Kat.

New this month, and in the future, we will also feature one of our 2020 Virtual Leading Light Award recipients in our monthly "Grown from STEM" newsletter. This month we continue to celebrate and recognize Women & Hi Tech's Honorary Equity and Inclusion Champion Award recipient, Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D., Senior Associate Intellectual Property (IP)/Patent Attorney, Barnes & Thornburg LLP. Angela embodies all of the award qualities day in and day out and is a dedicated advocate for equity and inclusion for all. She has spearheaded many of the significant advancements for equity and inclusion for diverse women within our organization, as well as throughout her career and personal life. Please watch this segment of the 2020 Virtual LLAs to learn more about what fuels Angela's passion and drive for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM fields and beyond. Again, Congratulations Angela!

Best Regards,

Rebecca Bormann
President, Women & Hi Tech

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