Women & Hi Tech exists to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.
 

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  • 06/29/2020 12:01 PM | Anonymous

    Last year we profiled Rebecca Bormann’s incredible work as both Women & Hi Tech’s Director of Corporate Engagement and the Managing Director of Sales & Services at Bell Techlogix, a leading national IT Managed Services firm headquartered in Indianapolis. This year, we are excited to feature her again as the organization’s next President effective in just a few days, beginning on July 1, 2020. “In my fourth year on the board, I am amazed at how much I continue to fall in love with Women & Hi Tech and its members. As the mission of equity and inclusion has become even more at the forefront of everything the organization is doing, I feel even more passionate about helping to lead the change that will make our STEM industries and our world safer and more inclusive to all.”

    Bormann shared news about many of the steps that Women & Hi Tech has taken to put action behind its mission of inclusion. “Events like Ignite Your Superpower and our Special Edition Executive Women’s Forums focused on The Disparity of Diversity Amongst Women in STEM, and OperationALL have been some of the more visible programs to lead crucial conversations that help increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. Board members also went through a 2-day anti-racism training led by Indiana Child Advocates, with a focus on how to Interrupt Racism For Our Children,” Bormann shared. “Whether it’s systemic injustices in education, the criminal justice and prison systems, healthcare, or STEM industries that must become more equitable, we need and want everyone’s hearts and minds to be open to make positive change.”

    When it comes to changes in STEM, Bormann observed that equity and inclusion is really what Women & Hi Tech’s movement is all about. “Certain groups of people have not been treated equally. Reforming systems, businesses, and how humans treat one another comes down not just to the different colors of people at the table, but the equality and inclusivity they experience in those seats. Our country claims everyone is equal, but that is not the case, which has become crystal clear in recent weeks and months if it wasn’t before — and we need it to be.” At her work, Rebecca shared that Bell Techlogix recently formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which she joined, that is tasked with evaluating and determining what actions Bell Techlogix can take to create a more equitable and inclusive culture and business practices, particularly for our African American, Black and Brown communities.  By suggestion of Bell Techlogix’s CEO, Ron Frankenfield, the committee’s first action named Juneteenth a Bell Techlogix company holiday.  For 2020, all employees were given a floating holiday to take on a day of their choosing, to remember, honor and celebrate the emancipation of those enslaved in the United States. Beginning in 2021, Juneteenth will be a Bell Techlogix corporate holiday. Rebecca commented, “When we include diverse people and perspectives to lead, brainstorm, create and solve problems, that is how we advance in organizations, in industries, in our communities, our states and in our nation. That is how we change the world.”

    This insight also renews Rebecca’s commitment to Women & Hi Tech, because she sees how women’s unique perspectives are essential to the problem-solving demanded in this new remote work environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everyone can relate to needing to pay closer attention to inflection and tone on calls. In video, we must be observant of body language. In my experience women excel at these things. Women are good listeners and survey the entire situation, not just the immediate words being used. But more than that, the pandemic has created widespread problems that affect so many such as, how to continue K-12 and collegiate education safely, job loss, economic issues, and of course how to stop the spread of COVID-19 and cure those infected. These are complex problems that need multiple perspectives, experiences, expertise and skill sets to solve- women bring their unique backgrounds, talents, skills and experiences to the table and are needed to create lasting, effective solutions.” She concluded, “Diverse women having a seat at the table—in business, in nonprofits, in the government—brings different perspective and ideas and ultimately, the best possible answers.”

    As President of the Board of Directors, Rebecca will lead the most diverse board Women & Hi Tech has ever been privileged to have in its 20-year history. “Our board and new board members are awesome,” she said plainly. This especially has her excited for the Leading Light Awards event (LLAs) scheduled October 1, 2020. “We don’t know yet what exactly this year’s LLAs is going to look like, if it will be everyone in person, virtual or some hybrid of the two. But we do know, we are still going to be celebrating amazing women in STEM that are leaders, risk-takers, motivators, mentors, landscape changers, equity and inclusion champions and our male allies. We are equally excited about funding growth of the future generation of female STEM professionals with over $40,000 in scholarships and grants that will be awarded through our #LLA20for20 campaign—the most ever awarded in Women & Hi Tech’s history. Our sponsors are not only speaking up about the importance of equity and inclusion in STEM fields, but are also financially supporting and getting involved to practically help further our mission of inclusion for all.”  

    Rebecca is excited to work with the board during her Presidential term to execute Women and Hi Tech’s new two-year strategy plan and primary goals. One personal mission during her presidency is to leave behind an even more diverse organization than she has stepped up to lead. “I want our board to include even more diversity in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and represented STEM fields. Among our membership, we also need to attract more diverse women and men. That’s because we all agree our organization should be a place where all people feel included, welcomed, and can be their authentic selves—a place where we network, learn, and grow together as a STEM community because of everyone’s unique talents and gifts. We all share the passion. Now, we continue to put that passion to work to effect positive change in our organization, and our Indiana STEM community.”

  • 06/29/2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Growing up in a family of eight siblings, Carrie Taylor saw heroines like Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, and Dana Sculley as her inspiration. “I knew I wanted to kick butt, and I wanted to help people, just like they did. I have always been tender-hearted by nature and wanted to help those in need.” But Taylor knew it was more expected of her to get married and have children than to go to college. “Fighting against that was a hard battle sometimes,” Taylor shared. “Wanting to go to college at all automatically made me a little odd, and then add in the fact I was interested in STEM.”

    Taylor worked while attending classes, paid her own tuition and ultimately completed both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Information Technology at Florida Institute of Technology, a tier 1 ranked university for STEM. Today, she is known as the Data Diva to her peers, with over 25 years of experience in all things data, including being a published author in the field. “Data helps me paint a bigger picture of the world by revealing hidden information,” she explained. “I always want to know more and solve the puzzle. I like figuring out what information truly means.”

    She has been excited to see a new focus and emphasis on data in the IT community after her decades of focus in the field. “I have often said data is like oil—you have to mine it, refine it, and use it, but then it can drive everything. And now that is coming to fruition.”

    Currently, Taylor works at Eli Lilly & Company as an Execution Lead, where she is also involved with the Women in IT employee resource group. She learned about Women & Hi Tech three years ago through her connection to fellow Lilly employee Karen Harris. “We partnered with Women & Hi Tech to help with Passport to Hi Tech and Ignite Your Superpower, but right away I also saw opportunity to build camaraderie and meet amazing people.” Since then, Taylor has jumped at every opportunity to volunteer, whether it’s working the coat check, getting on the phone to organize, handing out tee shirts, or something new and exciting. She was named the 2019 Volunteer of the Year by Women & Hi Tech. However, this is just one of the many organizations Carrie dedicates her time to, with others including Habitat for Humanity, Girls Inc., and the Mozel Sanders Foundation.

    Taylor is married and a mother to two sons. “I got married and had kids to enhance my life, but it was important to me that wasn’t the step to complete my life,” she said. It’s also been important to her to raise her sons as feminists. “They have witnessed me being discriminated against for my gender. I use that as a teachable moment to say, ‘You can be better than such a person. Moving forward, you can make a difference by being an advocate.’”

    Carrie says the STEM environment has become more inclusive to women, especially in the field of data. “There have been times I was the only woman at a conference, among thousands of people. Or I would see another woman in a room full of people and get excited to speak with someone who understood my challenges. Now I’m thrilled to see there are so many sharp, driven, quality women coming out of cCarrollege. It’s so fulfilling to me to leave the future in their hands and pass along my learnings through mentorship.”

    Though she’s only been involved for three years, she has seen Women & Hi Tech make great strides in modeling this attitude and helping drive the change. “The emphasis on inclusion at Women & Hi Tech is now so much bigger. It’s impossible to feel like an outsider for long because at every event there are more new people attending for the first time.”

    Of course, that doesn’t mean the work of equality in STEM is done. While Carrie hopes that the next few decades would make Women & Hi Tech’s mission obsolete once the landscape of STEM is truly inclusive to all, she knows it’s a long road ahead. “Latina and Black women are behind on the pay scale and behind in opportunity. I hope in coming years more Women & Hi Tech members are rural women and women of color, because those groups face some of the biggest barriers to access in STEM.” She added, “It’s wonderful to have a community to lean on. I have not experienced that until now and it’s nice to be a part of it. I am honored to participate in making that joy available to everyone.”

  • 06/01/2020 6:00 PM | Anonymous

    I have been trying to find the right words to share with you in light of recent events involving Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, Mr. Christian Cooper, Ms. Breonna Taylor – which particularly hits home as a native female Kentuckian- and now, Mr. George Floyd. Admittedly, I had to reach out to my own Firm Diversity Partner, mentor, and friend, Dawn Rosemond, for guidance as I questioned whether I could say anything helpful given how deeply and personally affected and traumatized I have been and remain by all of the current events. These feelings have only been even more inflamed with the recent violence and destruction of our city’s core, including my professional work home.

    As an African-American woman, as a black mother of black sons married to a black man, and as a recognized diversity, equity, and inclusion champion for the last two decades, I am currently overwhelmed with emotions that vacillate from terror to anger to despair and hopelessness. But, I am also the President of this organization and recognize that there is no better time to lead by example in order to do what I can to support you, our members and this fine organization, to help us move forward in the best way possible to live and breathe our mission of providing a local, statewide, and even a national landscape, that is “equally inclusive to all.”

    Please let me be clear – I have no answers or magic words to fix the frustration, fear, and/or paralysis many of you are likely feeling. Believe me, if I did I would use them on myself; I certainly need them. But, I will say this.

    To our African-American and other diverse members struggling to make sense of this current state of our union, please know that you are seen and valued in this organization. To the myriad of allies, including our diverse and non-diverse male allies, who are hurting as well and trying to figure out what to do and say, please know that you just taking the time to care, to reach out, to check in with those you know are suffering means more than you could ever imagine. Finally, for those struggling to understand just what’s going on at all and why recent events even matter beyond the norm, know that is okay too. It has to be if we are serious about fostering true inclusion in this organization. We must meet each other where we currently are. I simply ask that you err on the side of compassion, humanity, and empathy for others while on your journey of understanding.

    Finally, for those asking "what can I do"? Particularly for our non-diverse colleagues and peers who simply do not know what they can do in these uncertain times. I would advise you to implement the same takeaways learned by our Women & Hi Tech Board at the two-day “Interrupting Racism for Our Children” training that we attended earlier this year – use your voice, publicly and privately, to diminish fear and misinformation with knowledge, history, and empathy. Have the uncomfortable and challenging conversations with your children, your family, and those with whom you have influence, including those you know to not agree with equity and inclusion of all people. In the hearts and minds of those with privilege and power is where true change lies.

    To that end, below are some local and national resources on allyship best practices. We hope these provide some value to help us all move forward in our journey of being the most inclusive organization, city, state, and country we know we can be.

    Thank you for taking the time to listen. My heart and prayers are with you and all of those affected by the recent events in this country and our city. We are #INthistogether. I appreciate you!

    Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D.
    President, Women & Hi Tech

    Books:

    • Over Coming Bias by Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman
    • Lead Like An Ally by Julie Kratz
    • Race Matters by Cornel West
    • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

    Training and Other Resources:

    Ted Talks:


  • 05/29/2020 8:02 AM | Anonymous

    Dear Women & Hi Tech Members, Sponsors, Partners and Friends,

    Since 1949, Mental Health America and other health organizations around the country have led the observance of May as Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. According to Mental Health America, "While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health." As Women & Hi Tech President, Angela B. Freeman, noted in the April Edition of this newsletter, "Whether infected or not, coronavirus has had an effect on us all. Not each in the same way or to the same level, but to some degree. The mental, emotional, physical, and financial toll on all of us is different, just like each one of us is different."

    We are all still making our way, figuring out how to navigate all the challenges and changes at work, at school, and at home created by the pandemic. We face new emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental challenges as we continue to adapt, embrace, and work collectively and individually to “flatten the curve" and keep one another safe. Mental Health Month is just the reminder each of us needs to "check-in" with our mental health, particularly during these unprecedented and challenging times.

    In my research on Mental Health Month, I learned that Mental Health America provides a mental health toolkit, which can be found here.  Mental Health America's theme for 2020, "Tools 2 Thrive, will provide practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency regardless of the situations they are dealing with," are spot-on.  I encourage you to take some time to "check-in" on your mental health and the mental health of your family, friends, co-workers, and other loved ones. We can all use a little support and encouragement from time to time.  Now is the opportunity to stop and be sure we are taking care of ourselves and our fellow neighbor, particularly those who have been materially affected by the pandemic.

    For example, school districts, especially urban school districts, have been particularly challenged by the pandemic with school closures and having to transition to remote and online learning quickly.  Many districts, including our own Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), not only had to adapt to teaching and learning remotely in a matter of days, but had the additional challenge of many students not having the tools at home needed for virtual learning. In a school district like IPS, 65% of the over 27,000 student population qualify for free and reduced services. That translates into a large number of students who were put at a learning disadvantage when schools closed because access to a computer, tablet, and/or internet at home was lacking. The IPS Foundation launched the IPS Education Equity Fund to help solve this disparity. You can read more about the IPS Foundation and the Education Equity Fund on the MyIPS.org blog here.

    I am delighted to share with you that the Women & Hi Tech board recently voted and unanimously approved to donate $2500, our remaining 2019-2020 K-12 budget, to the IPS Education Equity Fund.  In support of our mission to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all, we believe it starts with our girls, including our diverse girls.  It is our hope and expectation that this donation will provide about 15-16 computers for IPS girls who may have interest to pursue STEM.

    “Women & Hi Tech is proud to support the IPS Education Equity Fund, and we make our donation in honor of one of Women & Hi Tech's Leading Light Award Inaugural Winners and IPS IT Officer, Laura Larimer, along with all Women in STEM at IPS and their male allies."

    Women & Hi Tech believes that we need to encourage, promote, and ensure that all girls in our community are receiving the education they deserve and equal access to opportunities to pursue an interest in STEM.  Education and opportunity for our girls are the foundation of equality and inclusion for women in the STEM fields, such as information technology (IT). 

    In this 17th edition of "Grown from STEM," Women & Hi Tech would like to introduce two extraordinary female IT leaders with impressive careers, both dedicated and passionate about creating equity and inclusion in all that they do. Please meet our Director of Volunteers, Karen Harris, Vice President, and Information Officer of Manufacturing and Quality for Eli Lilly & Co. Please also meet tenured member, Linda Calvin, Vice President of the School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College. Both ladies play vital roles in problem-solving for their organizations and developing the next generation of diverse female IT leaders. Please read more about Karen and Linda and how their backgrounds, business acumen, and passion for paving the way for future STEM leaders fuels their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Kind Regards,

    Rebecca Bormann
    President-Elect, Women & Hi Tech


  • 05/29/2020 8:01 AM | Anonymous

    In the last board profile of Karen Harris, we shared the story of her upbringing and background, and how her passion for STEM has spanned generations in her family. While you can read that story here, it’s also important to note that this background informed and supported her decision to retain the Volunteer Chair on the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors.

    “I am part of the Women & Hi Tech organization because I am passionate about STEM, and about the work of passing that passion down to the next generations,” she said. Harris defined her unique lens on the broad world of STEM as being Computer Science and IT related fields. “Every doctrine of STEM is different and has different needs, but in the Computer Science and IT related field, the work of diversity and inclusion is far from done,” she said.

    Indeed, a partnership between Google and research firm Gallup revealed the gaps in opportunity between access to a computer science related education and the female, Black, and Hispanic students that are growing parts of the next generation of professionals. Harris says she has chosen to stay engaged on the Board of Directors in part because Women & Hi Tech’s mission goes beyond its name in a way that aligns deeply with her personal values.

    “Women & Hi Tech exists to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all. We want to educate and provide opportunities for women and men,” she explains. “I’m a fundamental believer the more diverse your team the better your results will be, and gender is just one hallmark of diversity. There’s race, educational background, upbringing, and ultimately, how people think. All those elements contribute to diversity and a winning team.”

    Today Harris is the Vice President and Information Officer of Manufacturing and Quality at Eli Lilly and Co, where she also chairs the internal Information and Digital Solutions (IDS) Diversity and Inclusion Group and the Women in IDS Group. When asked what she thinks prevents more organizations from being truly inclusive, she identifies several factors, from how opinions are solicited and welcomed in meetings to the overall hiring and recruiting processes. “What changes the landscape is when one group sets the example and truly tries to bring in and connect others. If some people dominate and others don’t get to participate, it takes the collective team to help restore the balance.  Individuals crave to be engaged and to contribute with a desire to understand how what they do ties to the bigger picture.”

    Karen went on to liken how you create a diverse and inclusive culture to how many companies have created a culture of safety. “The leaders might start by describing at a high level why safety practices are important. But each employee has to believe in it, watch out for others, share near misses, and protect others to truly create and sustain that environment.

    "You can have a diverse team, but if you haven’t created an inclusive culture where diverse perspectives are heard and incorporated, you are missing the boat.”

    Harris has sustained her commitment to Women & Hi Tech because it is home to this kind of inclusive culture. “This organization is a great outlet to not only encourage school aged children to become part of STEM, but to support professionals at all stages of their careers through scholarships,  educational programming, and volunteer opportunities that expand our networks and knowledge.” As Volunteer Chair, it is Karen’s priority to help members connect with opportunities that ignite their passions and connect them to the Indiana tech community. “Volunteering is a chance to meet people and become exposed to perspectives outside your company, just like our programming is an opportunity to learn something, and in turn help others, whether as small as checking people in and taking their coat with a smile, or as large as inspiring a young person to keep a STEM career in mind.”

    Ultimately, when Karen thinks about her involvement in Women & Hi Tech as well as her career at Eli Lilly, she considers her definition of success. “To me, the biggest measure of my success is if there is a strong pipeline of talent coming behind me in succession,” she said. “When I look back one day and think about my career, I won’t remember all the projects that seem important today. I will remember the diverse array of people in various roles and opportunities that I helped put in place for the future. If I didn’t leverage my leadership roles to lift up and challenge those coming behind me, I would have failed.”

    Karen would like to thank her family for being her biggest supporters, from her husband and two college-aged sons to her parents, siblings and all her in-laws.   She is truly fortunate to have a strong support system around her who have always believed in her and helped her out when needed.


  • 05/29/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Some people might say you can’t build an impactful and meaningful career in STEM starting from the help desk. But for Linda Calvin, today the Vice President of the School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College, that’s exactly where she began. Born in Chicago but raised in Indianapolis, Calvin spent 20 years working at Dow, which became Dow Agrosciences, and is today Corteva. “I started out just teaching scientists how to use the IT system.” While she was an employee at Dow, Calvin completed a bachelor’s in journalism at Butler University, graduating cum laude.

    “That communications background, coupled with my IT knowledge, meant I was tapped to help out with policy communications and change management, and ultimately asked to lead digital projects.” Calvin became the global digital project lead for social media and web apps. But she knew she still hadn’t found her true calling. “One of my friends told me over margaritas that I should think about becoming a lawyer. Next thing I knew I was sitting in the LSAT, wondering where he had gone off to,” she joked. Calvin also completed her law degree at Indiana University while an employee at Dow, with the goal of using her hybrid background in IT, communications, and law to make an impact on legislation.

    Instead, she assumed the role of assistant city prosecutor for Indianapolis in 2013. Despite continuing to speak on how highly regulated environments could effectively use social media, she found she missed the tech world. After becoming a certified Scrum Master, she worked with several Indianapolis companies at director and senior level IT roles, helping them leverage digital solutions to drive growth. In 2019 she joined the leadership at Ivy Tech.

    “Everyone says my background is scattered, but at the end of the day all my fields of study connect in the discipline of problem solving. Today, it’s a major part of my role to solve problems for many different groups.”  Calvin spends time working with Ivy Tech faculty and deans to ensure the curriculum across the school’s 9 IT programs is relevant and meaningful to a diverse body of students who need to enter the work force with high-quality skills. Through programs like Ivy Works, she helps the college take steps to include women and minorities in STEM fields.  “I also spend a lot of time speaking with employers and organizations about our talent pipeline. Anyone hiring IT professionals needs to be communicating with Ivy Tech. We are graduating a diverse student body who all want to stay right here in Indiana and work.”

    “I have seen the lights go on for some businesses understanding how to partner with Ivy Tech, but I also hear from these employers that they have struggled to find diverse talent to hire,” she continued. “That’s how I know there is still a lot of work to do bridging gaps. Seeing the lack of women in IT, and especially the lack of women of color in IT, is what drew me to return to a membership with Women & Hi Tech.”

    Linda had learned about and briefly joined Women & Hi Tech around a decade ago, but her busy schedule earning multiple degrees and working hard led her to not be as involved as she might have.  She got re-engaged after connecting with past president Darcy Lee, discussing the desire to elevate women in STEM and take action to address disparity. “20 years ago, Women & Hi Tech was alone. Now we are the big sister to a lot of other groups all working to move the needle,” Calvin observed.

    “Women and minorities know when they are just a diversity hire, because their presence in the actual conversation is minimized,” Linda explained. “When you are only playing a supporting role, and aren’t invited to the meeting with a client, or the social events, that’s when it becomes apparent. That’s where we need to educate that women in tech and in STEM have a tremendous positive impact on the bottom line and are great leaders.”

    Calvin emphasized this effort is as much about teaching women and girls they deserve to shine as it is about educating employers and male allies. “I think imposter syndrome is a huge barrier for women,” she said. “It holds us back from just exploding in STEM when we are told those fields aren’t for us. And when we do succeed, when women today are kicking butt, it might even hold us back from being seen---because we don’t think we should be. It’s ingrained that it’s unattractive to want to be the center of attention. And until we flip that script, it’s going to be an uphill battle.”

    Linda says one strategy that could flip the script sooner is a proactive approach to seeking out women in STEM fields and inviting them to be seen and recognized before they even know they should be. “There has to be some way to start onboarding people into this sisterhood of STEM. When we’ve been beholden to keep heads down and work hard, we don’t look around to see who is with us, and so don’t know that someone else has been in a role like ours for five years at another company.”

    She also hopes to see Women & Hi Tech unite in symposium with other local groups like Women Who Code, Pass the Torch for Women, and Ladies in SaaS to discuss what can be done in unity to move the needle and make a statewide impact. “We have to link arms, work together, and influence legislation,” she says. “Women & people of color need to be at the table while legislators are talking about tech in Indiana, and currently we are not.”

    Linda’s own involvement with Women & Hi Tech has included sharing these ideas to start conversation among the membership. “One person might ultimately be the delegate, but they will represent the entire group, and so the group must take collective action.” Linda spoke at the February 2020 Executive Women’s Forum titled “The Disparity of Diversity Among Women in STEM.” She has also served as a judge for Women & Hi Tech’s scholarship awards and regularly attends events including the 20th Anniversary celebration last fall. “I brought a recent Ivy Tech IT graduate with me to that event and the experience fully energized and inspired her,” Linda shared. “To me, one of the greatest values of this organization is it teaches every member, men and women, what they can do to be a better advocate for others.”


  • 04/30/2020 3:02 PM | Anonymous

    Dear Women & Hi Tech Members, Sponsors, Partners, and Friends:

    In the February edition of “Grown from STEM,” I recapped my worldwide and whirlwind trip to South Africa to celebrate and empower diverse women in STEM. Two months later, our whole world has changed. You can’t even leave your home, nevertheless go on a global trip for non-essential reasons. Wow! This new reality can present a challenge to maintain an attitude of gratitude.

    Instead, it seems that the tales of a great science-fiction (sci-fi) movie or imagery from history class have come to pass and they are occurring in real life, right now. “In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the fundamental health, economy, and stability of people at every corner of the globe.” This sounds like a movie trailer, not reality. But sadly, for over 1,000,000 Americans that are infected with the virus, their loved ones, and even more worldwide - it is very real.

    Whether infected or not, coronavirus has had an effect on us all. Not each in the same way or to the same level, but to some degree. The mental, emotional, physical, and financial toll on all of us is different, just like each one of us is different. As a diverse woman in STEM with a family, a very demanding career, and deep civic engagement, I certainly feel it. The pressures and anxiety. The “what ifs” about things I really cannot control. I also appreciate that having total solidarity or all of the family, children, and pets at home for an indefinite timeframe most likely bears particularly increasing weight on women. But, we’re strong.

    As the late, great Maya Angelou said most poignantly, “Still [we] rise.” Somehow, we have found the strength to manage almost two months of the chaos, crisis, and compassion elicited by COVID-19 with all of the novel circumstances that it entails - quarantine, remote work, videoconferencing, job hunting, telehealth, homeschooling, megashopping, daily cooking and cleaning, grocery and meal delivery, and much, much more. Women & Hi Tech’s new ClickSide Chat series was designed to provide a safe space to discuss some of these issues with support and encouragement from an intimate group of similarly situated members. WE are the cream that always rises to the top.

    And, just like at the end of the very best sci-fi movie, amongst all the smoke and ashes, there remains only a few brave souls to carry on. The clever geniuses and innovators that somehow manage to survive by hacking the global power grid with two toothpicks, a nail file, a fitbit, gum, and a lighter! They have all the right expertise, skills, perseverance, and passion to restart society. The ones that let you know a sequel is yet to come - Women & Hi Tech, that’s us!

    STEM is on the forefront of everything good that is happening right now to fight COVID-19 globally. At home, so many of our Women & Hi Tech members and sponsors are making significant investments, are providing meaningful solutions, and some have even received national recognition about their efforts to “flatten the curve.” As Women & Hi Tech members, your expertise, experience, and talent in STEM, individually and collectively, are the exact tools necessary to reenergize, reboot, and/or rebuild our community, our state, and our nation.

    Our brilliant scientists, researchers, and clinicians are developing diagnostics, vaccines, and/or testing methodologies to fight the virus and protect our citizens. Talented engineers are designing new devices, equipment (e.g., personal protection equipment or PPE), and mechanisms to protect our fearless healthcare workers and dedicated first responders. Our amazing technology community is literally keeping our entire economy afloat with online or virtual connectivity solutions. And, of course, financial, business, and accounting personnel are helping to provide or facilitate grant and loan funding to support our neighbors, as well as our local small businesses and entrepreneurs. All of our Indiana women and men in STEM, along with our essential workers, have emerged as true superheroes against COVID-19. Women & Hi Tech sincerely thanks you for your service, sacrifice, and dedication to our greater good.

    And while our practitioners are fighting on the frontlines against coronavirus, they are likely being supported by colleagues that help keep the lights on. These critical team members inform the market and are often directly tied to incoming revenue streams. I’m referring to our communications, sales, marketing, advertising, and/or business development professionals.

    In this 16th edition of “Grown from STEM,” Women & Hi Tech would like to introduce you to two outstanding business development professionals in separate facets of the STEM industry. We invite you to meet our Corporate Engagement Director, Joy Neely, a regional business leader for Roche Diagnostic Information Systems. We also would like you to get to know Amber Fields, a director of corporate sales at AIS. Both ladies play key roles in developing relationships and experiences for prospective and existing customers and clients that interface with their business organizations. Please read more about Joy and Amber and how their backgrounds, business acumen, and passion for developing relationships helps fuel their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Sincerely,

    Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D.
    President, Women & Hi Tech
    president@womenandhitech.org


  • 04/30/2020 3:01 PM | Anonymous

    Joy Neely has a very distinct memory of when she first knew that healthcare and the world of STEM was in her future. Now a healthcare executive with Roche Diagnostics, Neely credits her mother, long time toxicologist, with influencing her passion for healthcare. Some of her earliest memories are of joining her mother at work on the weekends when she was a young child.

    “It’s these moments you don’t even think about when they’re happening as a kid,” Neely said. “I tagged along with my mom on her weekend shifts and would sit in the break room with little cartons filling them with pipettes for hours. I also had my own mini-lab coat that I wore with her to the lab.”

    But it was more than just playing laboratorian in her mother’s toxicology lab. Neely said that heading over to the hospital was the moment that solidified healthcare as her dream career path.

    “The big treat was to walk across the street and have lunch in the hospital cafeteria and see all the doctors and nurses. I think from a very young age of five or six years old, my mother was helping me create this vision that I was going to work in healthcare, whether that was working in a laboratory or being a doctor or a nurse.”

    Neely has been a board member of Women & Hi Tech since 2019, now serving as the Corporate Engagement Director. Neely said one thing that struck her about the organization was the level of commitment and value the group was able to convey when working with Roche Diagnostics. Neely recalls a business review that Roche Diagnostics held to evaluate their strategic community partners for the Women’s Leadership Business Resource Group that she co-leads.

    “Women & Hi Tech actually treated it like a business review,” she said. “They came in as a true business partner and shared how we could collaborate more in the future, and what opportunities we could bring to our members. They shared not only opportunities for our members to participate in like executive women's forums and networking opportunities, but also how we could serve in the community.”

    In her role as Corporate Engagement Director, Neely said she’s had the chance to promote not only the organization, but to communicate the virtues of working within the Indianapolis business community and contributing resources to make a difference for women engaging in STEM. “I am able to share our story, and bring on new sponsors,” she said. “I think it's just really being a voice in the community for women in STEM.”

    In addition to the community-wide benefits, Neely said that her involvement in Women & Hi Tech has proven to be a valuable personal experience as well. “It's been an opportunity to grow my professional network with women across the STEM space, much broader than Roche or even my prior employer in Indianapolis with Lilly. An exciting part is just to see my network grow across STEM with a variety of different women and allies.”

    Looking back over her extensive and impressive career in healthcare, Neely said that even after her significant experiences growing up in and around labs and hospitals, she quickly continued down this path. During her freshman year of high school, Neely took part in the Explorer program, which allowed her to shadow with a local hospital. At that time, Neely said she was still focused on the idea of being a nurse or doctor. However, after earning her degree in healthcare administration from Truman State University, she took a position at Eli Lilly as a pharmaceutical representative in Southeast Missouri. During her 18 years spent at Lilly, Neely served in a variety of commercial roles, including sales, marketing, market access, operations and Six Sigma.

    After making a jump to a healthcare startup TrialCard Market Access, Neely came back to a larger-scale healthcare organization by taking a sales leadership position with Roche Diagnostics in their new Digital Information Solutions franchise. Neely said she’s been excited about the chance to affect healthcare at a higher level, thanks to Roche’s commitment to innovation and focus on precision healthcare.

    “I would say women in STEM are still very much on a journey, but I also believe there’s been huge growth, especially in the last five years. So much comes from the contributions made by large companies in Indianapolis like Lilly, Cummins, Allison Transmission, Salesforce, and Roche Diagnostics, and many of the smaller organizations as well, are really committed to improving opportunities and equity for women in these spaces.”

    But it’s also given her insight into her personal life, particularly the development of her daughters and the effects of providing them with role models for a professional life in healthcare and STEM at-large. STEM is core to the Neely household. Neely’s husband also works in medical device sales and started his career as a paramedic. Her youngest daughter is a junior in high school and is currently on a biomedicine track through Project Lead the Way and her oldest is studying statistics and computer science at Butler.

    While she has always emphasized pursuing individual passions for her daughters, she said that much like her experience growing up, it’s easy to be inspired when you see the benefits and impact that a career in STEM can have. “We haven't forced them down these paths by any means. I think it is because there's so much exposure to STEM in the house through our professions and our colleagues they have met over the years that they seen all of the opportunity that is there for them,” she said.

    When asked about her hopes for the next twenty years of Women & Hi Tech, Neely said her goal is to help the organization expand and to have a broader impact. Neely hopes that Women & Hi Tech can start providing support to areas and regions outside of the Indianapolis area.

    “You see some of these organizations that are national and even some cases international. Several contacts on LinkedIn have reached out saying they want to be part of Women & Hi Tech, but they're in Chicago or Atlanta or in New York. I think a big focus for me is to determine how we put the infrastructure in place to grow and provide this opportunity for women in other cities.”

    LinkedIn Profile


  • 04/30/2020 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    For Amber Fields, Women & Hi Tech feels a bit like coming home. Though she first encountered the organization several years ago through networking, Fields said scheduling and work prevented her from making a real commitment to the group. However, after a few changes in positions, as well as some healthy encouragement from voices within Women & Hi Tech, Fields says she is officially back in the saddle.

    “I really got reconnected back with Women & Hi Tech because of Rebecca Bormann,” Fields said. “She's obviously a huge advocate for Women & Hi Tech, and works really hard for the organization. Unsurprisingly, it was her who just kept saying, ‘You’ve got to come back, you’ve got to come back!’ Eventually I just realized, ‘You’re right. I do.’”

    As a contributing member, Fields plays several roles throughout the organization. Though she’s fairly new to the organization’s volunteer positions, her primary focuses are in securing corporate sponsorships, as well as assisting in flagship events like the Leading Light Awards & Scholarship Gala. But no matter what she’s doing, Fields said it all comes back to understanding and communicating the community-minded virtues of Women & Hi Tech.

    “I’m really working on educating businesses about the benefits that come from supporting this type of organization, especially how it helps to get young women into the STEM field. But I also look back over previously missed opportunities for partnerships, and try to identify businesses that are a good fit, even if we didn’t connect in the past.”

    Much like her contributions at Women & Hi Tech, Fields’ career path seems to always be evolving. While change is a welcomed constant in her professional world, Fields can pinpoint the exact moment that she says the fields of STEM found its way to her. In 2014, Fields was six years into an established career handling sales and customer service in the logistics industry. Despite having tenures at two well-known companies, Fields said she had reached somewhat of a crossroads.

    “I had been doing sales and customer-side work for some time, and I was really in a discovery part of my career,” she said. “I was asking myself, ‘Where am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to really be doing?’ That’s when I got approached by EcoTech, and it was at a time when I was probably more open to new challenges.

    Fields found herself on the receiving end of an interesting offer: jump into sales at EcoTech, a local IT solutions company. The only problem? Fields had never worked in the tech space, and said the concept seemed too foreign and unfamiliar.

    “Initially I just thought, ‘Oh, I can’t sell that, I don’t know that world.’ But the guy going after me just asked, ‘What exactly do you think you're selling?’ I figured it was selling a product, one where I had to understand exactly how it all worked. But he said, ‘No, you're selling the experience that technology creates for people. You're selling the solution as to how it impacts people's lives.’”

    “That was a monumental moment, for me,” she said. “I immediately thought, ‘That's a cause I can get behind.’”

    After a year of getting her feet wet selling technology solutions and learning how to speak the language, Fields jumped at yet another chance for growth. For the next three years, Fields worked in corporate sales for Verizon Wireless. Working both on different projects both independently and with a supporting staff, Fields explained that it was here that she got a chance to hone her leadership skills and while the company size, resources, and product lines were vastly different from EcoTech, Fields said it all still connected right back to the first words of advice she got in tech sales.

    “It’s all about a solution. What’s the customer’s experience, and how can our solutions help to make it a better one?”

    Now, seven years after her start in STEM at EcoTech, Fields is the Director of Corporate Sales at AIS. Fields’ day-to-day centers around providing corporate clients with full-range solutions involving managed services, infrastructure, consulting, and cyber security. She says that the new position also feels like a culmination of her previous roles, as she’s able to pull from lessons learned at companies like EcoTech and Verizon.

    “I truly feel like I have arrived. I feel I’m in complete alignment with the role that I have, the place where I work, and the people that I do it with.”

    When asked what she sees for the next twenty years of Women & Hi Tech, Fields wants to see just how wide and impactful the organization can go. “My hope is for greater financial support for the organization in order for it to impact more girls in STEM. I would love for Women & Hi Tech to have a higher level of recognition and awareness, and for people to get behind it. How can we just make this a community movement? That’s what I hope for the future of Women & Hi Tech.”

    LinkedIn Profile


  • 04/08/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Women & Hi Tech extends our deepest sympathies to all of our fellow citizens who have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), and the scientists, healthcare workers, first responders, and other STEM professionals that are working on the front lines to keep our country safe and healthy at this unprecedented time. In response to the personal and professional uncertainty many are experiencing related to the COVID-19 global pandemic, for a limited time, Women & Hi Tech is pleased to offer our membership a weekly ClickSide Chat session occurring from April 15-May 27, 2020.

    The Women & Hi Tech ClickSide Chat is a 1-hour online Zoom meeting held for a small group of registered members to virtually interact, connect, and share helpful information, insights, resources, and support. These interactive sessions will provide a mid-week touch-point for Women & Hi Tech members to connect, engage, and encourage each other via a moderated discussion format related to a respective topic hosted by Women & Hi Tech Board Members. Registrants will be notified of the topics prior to the meeting, and are encouraged to visually and vocally participate in the online discussion in order to maximize attendee connectivity and engagement while complying with social distancing requirements.

    Registration for each Women & Hi Tech ClickSide Chat session is open and free only to members. Space for each session is extremely limited, and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. In order to maximize the impact of ClickSide Chat for our membership, each member should register for no more than 2 sessions.  Please see the Women & Hi Tech ClickSide Chat session topic series and schedule below, and register as soon as possible. Once registration is filled, no wait list will be initiated.

    Registration for ClickSide Chat is required in order to provide you with the final login instructions. A login/password will be sent to the email address entered for this registration approximately 48 hours before the event begins.  Again, in order to facilitate a robust group discussion among an intimate group of members, space for each ClickSide Chat session is extremely limited. Please register as soon as possible.

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Women & Hi Tech is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and all donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Federal ID Number: 35-2113596. 
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