Women & Hi Tech exists to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.
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  • 04/30/2019 11:01 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    When Lori Boyer graduated from Indiana University with a degree in marketing and sociology, she wasn’t sure what future lay ahead. Her decision on her college major had been largely influenced by the expectations of teachers and friends from her small home town about what was “expected” for girls to study. “Even just going to IU was a big enough risk,” Boyer said. “I did not have the confidence to break the mold and speak up, to say ‘Get out of my way! I’m a woman! Hear me roar!’ I don’t have regrets, but I wish I had joined computer clubs and found my nerds back in college.”

    Instead, after graduation Boyer got a job at a software company in the human resources department. She soon got tired of being asked the same questions over and over. “I decided we needed an online FAQ, which at the time was a substantial undertaking,” she said. “Back in the days of dialup, you couldn’t just watch an online tutorial, or upload a file to a web host and call it done.” Boyer turned to the thick coding books in her office and began a journey of self-education that would define her career. “After I completed that project, I saw a position had opened up at our company for a junior web developer. I applied, and when I got it, I couldn’t believe it.” From there, lacking mentors, it was back to the books. After a few years learning the basics, Boyer began a journey of job-hopping, spending 1-2 years at each organization before she found her upward mobility was too limited for her liking.

    “It seemed like the only way to get raises or to further my career was to accept a new position. Otherwise, it wasn’t happening at the same pace as my contributions to the team.”

    That all changed when Boyer was hired by Barnes & Thornburg, where she continues to work happily after over a decade. “A lot of people think I must have some legal background, but my role here is centered on automation and integration. The software I write makes it so that others have an easier job because I’ve automated the way they can complete an assignment. For instance, one software I wrote took a 2-3-week manual process down to a few hours.” The project was a finalist for a MIRA Award. “Anytime I can take a procedure that is completed on paper and make it digital, that helps us grow, streamlines processes, and frees up trained minds like lawyers and paralegals to get back to practicing law,” Boyer said.

    Though she started work at Barnes & Thornburg in 2006, Boyer didn’t learn about Women & Hi Tech until 2014, when a project she completed at the firm made her a finalist for a Leading Light Award in the Outstanding Achievement in STEM category. “I have always felt very secluded as a woman in tech, especially a self-taught one. As soon as I heard, I thought ‘Wow, that’s cool. I’m not actually alone.’ I started volunteering right away and joined the board in 2015 as Communications Chair, just as we were making major changes to the website and infrastructure.” Now in her second term on the board, Lori manages the organization’s social media and email marketing, website, and event registrations. “We had Facebook, Twitter, and a blog before I joined the board, but I am proud of the degree that I have helped elevate them and make them consistent,” she said.

    “I also really enjoy getting out in the Indy tech scene to speak at events and encourage women to pursue STEM Careers,” Boyer added. “That’s something that even 3.5 years ago when I started on the board I was terrified of. I was so scared they would ask a question and I wouldn’t know the answer. I had big impostor syndrome. Thanks to Women & Hi Tech, I have grown beyond that.” In 2018, Lori was named a TechPoint #Tech25 Winner. “Basically, this is an award for the techies hanging out behind the scenes that aren’t in the C-suite.” she described. “The other 24 are also all people like me who have been around, but aren’t executives or CEO's, yet do so much that they are important to an organization.”

    Continuing her self-education, Lori also applied for a #GrowWithGoogle scholarship and was accepted to complete a certification in Android development. “Is it something I use every day? No. But it’s now a skill I have that’s totally different from the code I write in my day job. Learning different coding languages makes me happy. I like a good challenge!” Opportunities like this are one of the reasons Boyer is so delighted that Women & Hi Tech has started to offer professional development grants as of 2018. “If you’re a grown person and already in a job, how are you supposed to progress your career? Sure, take classes in your own time…but the funding isn’t always there. I like that we support nontraditional paths, because across the Indianapolis STEM community, other organizations do too.”

    Lori predicts that it’s through shared goals with other local organizations that Women & Hi Tech will be able to do more and more within the next twenty years. “It’s great to see all these different groups starting to come to a place where we all work together and know each other’s value,” she said. “That works well for us to connect our members with opportunities. What’s coming next for us is more. More outreach. More members. More partners. More growth. And more success in accelerating STEM innovation by encouraging talent to pursue passion.”

    LinkedIn

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  • 04/30/2019 11:00 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    When Tiffany Trusty was invited by a friend to attend the Leading Light Awards in 2010, she accepted with some reluctance. As someone with a desire to be recognized for her talent first and foremost, she had been resisting women’s networks her whole career. As the second female graduate of Rose-Hulman, Trusty was used to being the only woman in the room, and didn’t really mind it. “I transferred in because they didn’t even go coed until two years into my college career,” she recalled. “I was the only girl in every class. I guess that was when I first felt the responsibility to stand up and say, ‘I am a woman in tech—hello!’”

    Surrounded by female peers at the Leading Light Awards, Trusty said she had never felt more comfortable.

    “I suddenly realized that this was something I hadn’t known I needed all along.”

    Trusty sought out every board member she could find in the room and asked each how she could get involved. Her passion for mentorship came out in most of those conversations, and Trusty was invited to present at the next board meeting about mentorship opportunities. “They politely said no to my ideas….and they also asked me to join the board.”

    Though the organization had always been called Women & Hi Tech, they badly needed a website, had two online followers, and were still using pen, paper and hand written checks to check in guests at events. As a seasoned web developer, Trusty joined the board in the role of Communication Chair and took on the task of growing web presence with a site, social media, and an email list. “Once that was under control, we still had to tackle the burden of spreadsheet hell,” she recalls. With the help and insight of Lori Boyer & Elyse Swoverland, Trusty helped Women & Hi Tech deploy new technology that would integrate the website with membership records, event registrations, and reminders for renewal. “I couldn’t believe I was at the table with these brilliant inspiring women,” Trusty remembers of her time on the board. After Boyer came on as Communications Chair, Trusty transitioned to the role of Technology Chair and the duo continued to help Women & Hi Tech accelerate growth through strategic use of software and web presence.

    Tiffany also took over linkage duties and continued Women & Hi Tech’s commitment to the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing award. “In addition to judging the awards and earmarking funds to give a small honorarium to each winner, we also get the invaluable opportunity to sit at a table with these girls and simply encourage them to keep aspiring,” Trusty said.

    When her employer of sixteen years, Motorola, severely downsized in 2011, Trusty felt the strength of her network through Women & Hi Tech even more. “I felt so much karma given to me during that time,” she said. “I could have had a knee-jerk reaction and taken another corporate job. Instead, I decided to freelance and really get to know the tech landscape in Indy. Because of my connection with Women & Hi Tech, I never hurt for clients.”

    After five years freelancing, Tiffany knew she loved mobile apps. “By then Scott Jones had started Eleven Fifty, and that sparked my passion—the idea of junior engineers that will grow here over time to make our beloved tech community a strong one.” It was teaching at the Eleven Fifty Academy that Tiffany also discovered new skills. “Before then I wanted to get deep in the code and make a beautiful product. But I was never so rewarded by a product as I was when I saw an apprentice get their first job. It was then I realized I had a passion for growing talent.”

    With an expanded skill set Tiffany returned to her freelance business in 2017—this time, also as a new mother. “Earlier when I had been freelancing, I would go networking every night. But as a new mom, instead of going to ten events, I decided to host my own and invite everyone I wanted to see.” Her monthly “IT / Nerd Happy Hour” continues to this day at Ale Emporium, though the very first meeting led Tiffany into another professional opportunity. “A Rose-Hulman alum showed up, and we got to talking about mobile apps at Lilly. A short time later, that led to me being recruited.” Today, Tiffany works for Eli Lilly as a manager of software execution leads, leading teams that are developing digital products to help diabetics live a better life. “I know I love enabling brilliant people to do the best work and luckily at Lilly I’m surrounded by brilliant people. I want to remove the blockers and encourage and enable them to fly.”

    This inspiration also extends to her work in the STEM community, where Trusty hopes to remove blockers for young professionals. Tiffany is currently at work with Vincennes University to raise the profile of an innovative new on-campus living and learning community specifically for women in STEM. She also regularly speaks at conferences and is a member of the National Center for Women in IT Affinity Group Alliance and the Women in STEM Initiative. Rose-Hulman awarded Tiffany a Career Achievement Award in 2017, not for her innovations in development, but for her contributions as a leader to the STEM community. “At first I tried to tell them I didn’t know if I deserved the award, but after they said why, I understood that I did deserve it,” she said. “I have both taken it upon myself and taught every woman I mentor--go out and show up. Go to conferences, stand up and speak! Do this because when a woman walks in a room and sees another woman standing at the head, we feel a little more confident.“

    On the other hand, Trusty’s biggest wish for Women & Hi Tech moving forward is an increased number of male allies, in membership and in leadership. “I love the support group and life raft we have created and the comfortable network. But there are so many men who want to help, who don’t know how, and who need to be welcomed,” she said. “We have a responsibility overall to encourage the next generation to keep going. Boys and girls. Together.”

    LinkedIn 


  • 03/28/2019 8:03 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

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

    As we near the end of this year’s Women’s History Month, Women & Hi Tech would like to pay tribute to all of the fearless female leaders who have come before us, and upon whose shoulders we stand. We would also like to recognize the upcoming centennial of the Women’s Suffrage movement, which led to the constitutional amendment providing women the right to vote. While working to promote women’s personal rights, further advancements have also been spearheaded by women to support their professional equality when working outside of the home. Women like Marie Curie, Grace Hopper, Elizabeth Bragg, and Katherine Johnson - each of whom made significant contributions in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), respectively. Importantly, the leadership of these and many other women throughout history has not only resulted in STEM industry innovations, but has established a benchmark of the value realized when female leaders contribute their style and expertise to STEM industries.

    In honoring female leadership in STEM nationally, we would be remiss to not highlight Women & Hi Tech’s own history as a local force to promote the advancement of women in STEM in this community. For twenty years, Women & Hi Tech has driven change in the landscape of women represented in STEM in Indiana to be equally inclusive to all. While there have been significant increases in the number of female STEM practitioners over the last two decades, in 2019, women still occupy only about 24% of STEM careers and hold only about 18% of STEM leadership roles in the U.S.1

    In addition, female STEM entrepreneurs only make up about 5% of the 30% of female-owned businesses nationwide.2 Moreover, female entrepreneurs only receive about 18% of the venture capital secured by their male counterparts, but generally report about 12% higher revenue as compared to male-owned businesses.3 Accordingly, the role of the female STEM entrepreneur is evolving and increasing as women continue to make multi-faceted impact in the world of STEM, not just as practitioners, but also as businessowners.

    In this third edition of Grown from STEM, Women & Hi Tech would like to recognize two female STEM entrepreneurs who started their tech-related businesses here in Indianapolis. Audrey Taylor is the Past President of Women & Hi Tech, and is the CEO of netlogx. Susan Vaughn is a Board Member Emeritus of Women & Hi Tech, as well as the President and CEO of The Project Authority, Inc. Please read more about Audrey and Susan and how their STEM backgrounds, business acumen, and organizational leadership skills culminated in the establishment of thriving businesses as female STEM entrepreneurs.

    Profile:  Audrey Taylor, Past President of Women & Hi Tech and CEO of netlogx

    Profile:  Susan Vaughn, Past President/Board Member Emeritus and President & CEO of The Project Authority, Inc. 

    Kind regards,

    Angela B. Freeman, Esq.
    Women & Hi Tech President-Elect and 20th Anniversary Committee Chair
    presidentelect@womenandhitech.org

    1Neal, Stephanie and Smith, Audrey. "Are We Underselling the Promise of Women in STEM Leadership Roles?" DDI World, https://ddiworld.com/challenging-thinking/are-we-underselling-women-in-stem-leadership-roles

    2Kymn, Christine. "Help Wanted: Seeking Women Entrepreneurs in STEM." Brookings, 8 December 2014, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2014/12/08/help-wanted-seeking-women-entrepreneurs-in-stem/

    3Weisul, Kimberly. "When It Comes to Revenue, Women Entrepreneurs Are Pummeling the Guys." Inc, 6 June 2018, https://www.inc.com/kimberly-weisul/boston-consulting-group-female-founders-higher-revenues.html



  • 03/28/2019 8:02 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    Susan VaughnSusan Vaughn got involved with Women & Hi Tech at a crossroads in her career. She worked for ten years as a consultant for accounting firm Crowe Chizek, supporting them in managing projects and improving processes. Then, the day came when her next move was to take the step up and become a partner. “I would have been the first female partner in our Systems Consulting Group in Indy,” Vaughn remembers. “But in that moment, I looked up and saw that everyone above me was travelling all the time. They were all men, with wives who stayed home with the kids, or had a nanny.” As a new mother, she knew this would not work for her family. She started looking for like-minded people who could help her define the next best step. “I wanted to find role models who I could look up to and learn from about work-life balance. I found so much more than that; I found a family in Women & Hi Tech.”

    Vaughn joined Women & Hi Tech in 2000 and is one of its longest-running consistent members. “As I was starting my business The Project Authority almost 19 years ago, I was networking a lot. I found that a lot of the interactions and conversations I was having were surface level; that is, until I found Women & Hi Tech. The relationships I developed through Women & Hi Tech were unique and valuable.” This inspired Vaughn to get involved with the Board of Directors. She served as both Executive Women’s Forum Director and Technology Director before being nominated President. During her presidency, Vaughn leveraged her project management expertise to improve the experience for all the women who volunteered on the Board of Directors. “We clearly defined every Director’s role, and what responsibilities were tied to each role. If a board member needed help, they could ask for it, but mostly they could do it on their own. This was a pivotal change,” she explained. “Before I was President, the women in that role got so burned out they sometimes left the organization. Now, people stay on the board and stay active members long after their presidencies have ended, and I think that’s at least in part due to my impact.”

    The year she was President, Vaughn also chaired the Leading Light Awards, simply due to the need for volunteers.

    “One of the ways I have seen the organization grow and change is in doing a much better job of supporting and leveraging our members who want to volunteer and helping them find opportunities that align with their interests.”

    She thinks this is especially true when it comes to the organization’s engagement at the K-12 level through events like Ignite Your Superpower! (IYS) and Passport to Hi-Tech. “Women & Hi Tech facilitates these programs in order to further our mission to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be more inclusive. For our members, they value these programs for that reason as well, but also value in the opportunity to volunteer in helping others and giving back to the community, while creating camaraderie with other women in STEM.”

    As a single mother to two daughters, Grace (19) and Gabi (15), Susan sees firsthand the impact that involvement with Women & Hi Tech can make on young women. “Both my daughters have come to events with me, and I have tried to teach them the value of networking and stepping outside your comfort zone. Even today in my role helping my clients’ tech sides and business sides communicate with one another about a project, I am frequently the only woman in the room. That requires the confidence to step up and assert yourself, which I developed alongside many of my role models in Women & Hi Tech.”

    Susan thinks one of the most valuable offerings Women & Hi Tech can make to girls and young women moving forward is teaching not only the power of networking, but how to do it well. She told the story of how The Project Authority landed a big client early on because Susan showed up to an intimidating event. “Of the 200 people in the room, 190 were probably men,” she said. “I realized quickly that showing up as a woman made me stand out, and that if I stood out in the right way, I could make the most of that. There is more we could do around that piece of growing young girls and teaching them how to go out and hustle. You have to make yourself uncomfortable, but in the right ways.”

    Susan’s unique insight into risk and return as a project manager also supports this philosophy. “A lot of times on a project, everyone around me is saying we don’t have to worry about a risk, because it’s unlikely to occur. But whether I’m helping a robotics company pull off a new product or helping a major health system deploy a new website, I know that there will always be risks and we should choose the places we take those risks strategically. In the same way, if you go to an event, it is easier and maybe more fun to sit with the people you know,” she pointed out. “But then you’re taking a bigger risk you don’t even see – missing an opportunity. The short-term challenge of going to meet someone new, of stepping up, might seem more difficult, but it’s also the route to bigger and more fulfilling success.”


    • Susan's LinkedIn   
    • Susan's Twitter   
  • 03/28/2019 8:01 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    Audrey TaylorAt age 10, Audrey Taylor watched a single woman — a police officer with no husband, no children — buy a home and move into her neighborhood in the UK. That episode opened Audrey’s eyes to the possibilities for women, particularly in male-dominated fields like IT. At a young age, Audrey became determined to use her drive, thirst for knowledge, and penchant for leadership to make an impact for herself and other women.

    Audrey became a force in the technology space early in her career — without a college degree. Her goal to travel the world one tech project at a time brought her to Indiana in 1991 as a consultant on a project for the state government. “Tech is really the only global career. There’s no need to be retrained when you go to another nation since the cutting-edge tools and state of the industry translate easily across borders.” Her years as a consultant empowered Audrey with skills in relationship management and service delivery, along with exposing her to the importance and power of data before Big Data was even on the radar.

    In 1998, Audrey founded her company netlogx in Indianapolis to guide enterprise organizations as they navigate change and make that change work for them by solving complex business challenges. “Every organization today is a tech-reliant organization, even if they aren’t in a STEM industry. netlogx helps these companies make better technology selections, both to optimize the benefit of their investment and to ensure they are legal compliant and following best practices. We help organizations survive and thrive in a dangerous world.” Now in its 21st year, netlogx has a presence in eight states and has been named a Best Place to Work five times, including the last four consecutive years. The business is starting to explore a foothold in Europe as well.

    In and outside of netlogx, Audrey is passionate about supporting women and diversity. Around the time she was creating netlogx in the late nineties, Audrey discovered an emerging organization, Women & Hi Tech, that supported both women and diversity as well. “It was incredible to discover a strong group of women I respected, and I was eager to be a part of it.” After a few years spent building her business and raising her two sons, Audrey had the opportunity to become an active member of Women & Hi Tech, going on to serve the organization in multiple capacities.

    “My vision for netlogx has always been that it become and remain a place where people from a diverse array of backgrounds can feel heard, supported, and grow as professionals; a business that is diverse by design. I knew that Women & Hi Tech’s mission was directly aligned with netlogx’s operating principles, so the first way I got involved was to support them through corporate sponsorship. As a woman-owned business, it is our responsibility to encourage diversity and inclusion everywhere.”

    Audrey also got involved with the organization by joining its Board of Directors as Treasurer, a role she held for two years before being nominated as the board’s President. “I had used my time as Treasurer to reinforce the accountability with which the organization was already managing its budget. As President, I took the opportunity to focus on another one of my passions: mentoring.”

    At the time of Audrey’s presidency in 2017-2018, Women & Hi Tech had reached a critical mass of members, meaning it was no longer sustainable for the organization to individually match its members with mentors or mentees. “To meet the needs of members who wanted to provide mentorship,, I established a partnership with the Pass the Torch for Women Foundation. Partnering with Pass the Torch provided us with the opportunity to not only introduce STEM fields to young women, but also deliver value efficiently to our members and elevate another group, already aligned with our mission, in the community.”

    Audrey also worked behind the scenes to improve the board’s efficiency by implementing a consent agenda that could be reviewed and discussed before meetings. “With an all-volunteer board, every Director is working very hard and deserves for their time to be respected, and for their issues to be heard and addressed.”

    Today, Audrey sees Women & Hi Tech continuing to become more outward-facing in the community rather than simply serving as a support group for our members. “We are increasingly realizing women can’t make change by simply talking to a room full of women. Male allies have always been important, as are the young people we are reaching through our K-12 and college outreach initiatives.”

    “It is so important that we raise strong people to be prepared for the future together. This can’t just be about one type of person; it’s about all people working together to make the world a better place.”

    In her decades spent in Indianapolis, Audrey saw great strides in the movement for equality and diversity but says there is still a way to go for things to move in the direction of inclusion. “The talent shortage in Indianapolis and across the world is putting pressure on the industry to seek change. Hiring people who don’t look and sound like us has now become a business need, not just an option, and that’s a good thing.”

    At netlogx, Audrey has always prioritized these hiring practices, not for a pat on the back, but to protect against blind spots and undetected bias. “Without diversity, you have no ability to progress,” she observed. “I’m aware that even at my business, we may have a lot of female leaders, but a lot of them look like me. So, I’m always trying to make us diverse by design. Without diversity, you end up with biased artificial intelligence, unnoticed risks, and other unintended consequences.”

    In Indianapolis, Audrey says one of the biggest barriers to more diverse STEM work environments can be the educational barriers to entry. “There have been good conversations locally around what it takes to get hired into tech positions — do you need a degree? Or just a boot camp style education? There’s a lot of lip service paid to not needing a degree, but in job postings, the policy hasn’t changed and only degree holders can apply. There’s still a long way to go.”

    This is one reason Audrey thinks Women & Hi Tech will still be essential to the Indianapolis STEM community twenty years from now. “This organization is a locally developed reaction to a local need, and as a result, it’s been able to adapt over time as the need changes. It was valuable 20 years ago, and it’s valuable today in a different way. We can’t know what the needs will be 20 years from now, but we can stay flexible and adaptable enough to meet those needs.”

       
         netlogx Website


    • Audrey's LinkedIn   
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    • netlogx Twitter   
  • 03/14/2019 8:00 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    Women & Hi Tech has been positively impacting girls and women in STEM in Indiana for twenty years. In this milestone year, Women & Hi Tech is seeking candidates for open positions on its Board of Directors who can help fulfill the mission of changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all through providing mentoring, education, networking and professional development, while recognizing and supporting girls and women in STEM.

    The Nomination Committee is seeking female and male candidates for four positions:  1) K-12 Outreach Director, 2) Leading Light Awards Director, 3) Corporate Engagement Director and 4) Community Outreach Director (a new position). Women & Hi Tech is run by an all-volunteer, working Board of Directors and are looking for candidates who are actively engaged with the organization, and will bring wisdom, experience, effectiveness, candor, and creative thinking to the organization. We don’t take the term “working board” lightly. At any given time, a Director is leading her/his own area of responsibility while also contributing to other areas or the organization, including serving on committees, and representing Women & Hi Tech in the community at various events.

    The call for nominations closes Monday, April 15, 2019. Multiple nominations from a single candidate are permitted. All nominations will be reviewed by the Nomination Committee. Nominees must be Women & Hi Tech members in good standing at the time of initial voting and must remain in good standing throughout their tenure. New board members take office in July, 2019.

    To assist you with nominating candidates, below are descriptions for the open board positions.

    SUBMIT NOMINATION

  • 02/27/2019 1:03 PM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    Darcy LeeDear Women & Hi Tech Members, Sponsors, Partners, and Friends:

    Whenever someone asks me what makes Women & Hi Tech special or important – why I spend so much time committed to this organization – many reasons cross my mind. We invest in the future of women in STEM by awarding scholarships. We make it a priority to recognize and celebrate women of achievement in STEM. We connect with young girls to inspire and encourage them to pursue careers in STEM. The list goes on. But when you look deeper, the number one thing that makes our organization so impactful is our members and the meaningful connections we forge with one another.

    When Tiffany White was President, I heard her refer to Women & Hi Tech as “my tribe.” That has really stuck with me, and I see it each day with more clarity. We are all very different, but as women we face similar challenges. Together with our male allies and sponsors, we pursue common interests – to attract more girls to STEM, and to retain and support those women working in STEM careers. As we pursue these interests, we stand by one another, support one another, promote and advocate for one another. It’s this softer side of what we do that really makes our organization unique. This article about Why Women Need a Tribe sums it up pretty well. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it, and to watch this video we produced for the 2018 Leading Light Awards to understand why what we do is so important and the full impact our work achieves.

    We’re grateful for your support these past 20 years and look forward to continuing to serve women in STEM in Indiana for many years to come. One way we’re investing in this future is by offering $20,000 of scholarships to female STEM students in Indiana via our “#WHT20for20” campaign*.These honors will be awarded at our 20th Anniversary Celebration Event on Friday, August 16, 2019. We’ll be announcing details about these scholarships soon, so keep your eyes peeled for more information.

    Finally, I invite you to learn a little bit more about our all-volunteer Board of Directors – the women who dedicate their time, energy and resources to make our mission a success. This month’s featured Women & Hi Tech profiles are President-Elect Angela B. Freeman, and past President/emeritus member Deborah Pollack-Milgate. These colleagues share how their professional journeys and current careers intersect with STEM and give perspective on how far we’ve come in supporting the advancement of women in STEM in Indiana.

    Profile: Angela B. Freeman, President-Elect of Women & Hi Tech and 20th Anniversary Committee Chair, Patent Attorney at Barnes & Thornburg

    Profile: Deborah Pollack-Milgate Past President/Emeritus Member, Partner at Barnes & Thornburg

    Sincerely,

    Darcy Lee
    Women & Hi Tech President
    president@womenandhitech.org

    *For more information on sponsoring a scholarship, please contact Rebecca Bormann, our Corporate Engagement Director at corpsponsor@womenandhitech.org.


  • 02/27/2019 1:01 PM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    Angela B. FreemanWhen Angela B. Freeman found her second career as a patent attorney at Barnes & Thornburg, she also found Women & Hi Tech. In her first career as a molecular biologist, she worked for over a decade at Eli Lilly studying how differences in the human genome affect a person’s reaction to medicine. “It showed me that on a genetic level, we are all different, but we are much more similar.” In 2008 during the economic crisis, Freeman started thinking about her Plan B. “I realized that I didn’t have a backup plan if I got laid off, but I was unsure what would make me happy.” The answer came in the form of a guest speaker at Lilly who was both a medical doctor and a lawyer. “The questions of privacy, intellectual property, and ownership of the genetic data we were generating as scientists had never crossed my mind. But the second it did, I was fascinated.”

    Like any good scientist, Freeman spent a year doing research on law school before she enrolled. She also kept her full-time job at Lilly, with her husband, sons, and mentors cheering her on. “I have had many great mentors in my career, and 90% of them have been Caucasian males because that is what STEM leadership has looked like historically. However, my supervisor at that time, an openly lesbian Latina M.D. and Ph.D. scientist, convinced me that I was a great scientist, but would be an even better lawyer.”

    Although her professional experiences have mostly been positive, Freeman has experienced setbacks that highlight the great potential to create a more equal and inclusive workplace environment in STEM. As a diversity advocate, this outstanding need inspired her to get involved with Women & Hi Tech. “Deborah Pollack-Milgate told me there was an open position on the board for a Networking Director and I knew that was a great fit for me. I spent the last four years working to make our networking events bigger, better, and more inclusive to all.”

    Freeman currently serves as the President-Elect and will assume the role of President in July 2019. “To vote me in as the first African-American President of Women & Hi Tech in the year of our 20th anniversary reflects the board’s commitment to advancing diversity in STEM. We are continuing to grow as an organization that elevates all women equally; I am very proud of that” Freeman said.

    “One of the biggest changes I have seen in STEM over the last 20 years is that less time is required to convince others that my road in STEM, as a diverse woman, has had challenges that Caucasian women often do not encounter, including both unconscious bias and outright discrimination. These barriers to women, particularly women of color and other diverse women, have not disappeared. So, having a platform to exemplify a diverse woman who is successful in STEM in spite of those challenges is a major victory.”

    Women of color receive less than 5% of bachelor’s degrees across all STEM fields. However, Freeman believes Women & Hi Tech will help increase those statistics in Indiana. “To be it, you must see it,” exclaimed Freeman, who appreciates that diverse girls must be exposed to professional women that look like them. “Programs like Passport to Hi Tech and Ignite Your Superpower! are key for outreach to more diverse girls,” said Freeman. “Women & Hi Tech will continue to seek community partners to support our outreach to diverse and rural girls from kindergarten through college and well into their professional careers.”

    “In the next 20 years, I hope to see the Indianapolis community embrace Women & Hi Tech the same way we have embraced this community,” Freeman said. “We are locally founded, and locally focused on advancing and encouraging women in STEM to remain here, although I don’t believe our history is recognized by the local community as such. That is one of the many reasons I am so grateful and excited to have this opportunity. I know I will not be the only diverse woman to lead Women & Hi Tech in the future, but I am honored to be the first, and I take that responsibility very seriously. As such, I plan to spend the rest of my tenure ensuring that Women & Hi Tech is positioned to expose the next generation of girls in Indiana, particularly diverse girls and women, to all the possibilities available to them in the world of STEM. If I can do that, then I believe my leadership of this organization has been effective.”

    Barnes & Thornburg  Barnes & Thornburg Website


  • 02/27/2019 1:00 PM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)
    Deborah Pollack-Milgate

    Deborah Pollack-Milgate has practiced intellectual property law with Barnes & Thornburg for almost twenty years. “I consider intellectual property to be at the core of all of STEM. If you haven’t preserved your intellectual resources, it can be the make or break of an organization.” Pollack-Milgate is also committed to helping women advance in their fields, including in her chosen field.“ Many women as employees are concerned with protecting intellectual property at a high level. But even at the ground level, many women are inventors themselves. They deserve their creations to be protected on their behalf.”

    While Pollack-Milgate learned about Women & Hi Tech through its long-standing partnership with Barnes & Thornburg, she joined because she saw the value for all women in STEM. “It’s incredibly fun to see and hear what everyone is out there doing. Before Women & Hi Tech, the Indiana organizations for women in STEM were specific to certain professions, like engineers or chemists. But we face shared problems across our industries,” she pointed out. “Even in law, the same issues come up. This organization is a place where women feel supported in overcoming barriers, aside from the industry-specific challenges.”

    Her enthusiasm and volunteer support led to Pollack-Milgate being invited to become a board member, specifically focused on planning the Executive Women’s Forums. She held this role for three years. “The Executive Women’s Forums have always been at the core of Women & Hi Tech is. I was very mindful in making sure we continued to have creative and solid content. I’m proud of my leadership in that role.” The board then invited Deborah to become President, which she accepted, assuming the role in July 2013. “My goals were to deliver growth and diversify our appeal even further. We were starting to have greater financial resources, so I put forward the idea of the scholarship program, which we then adopted.” During her tenure, Women & Hi Tech also launched the Passport to High Tech event for girls, in partnership with Conner Prairie. She is also proud of having led the board to revise the categories for the Leading Light Awards, broadening them to allow more women to be nominated and recognized.

    After her time as President, Deborah remained on the board for another year to continue planning the Executive Women’s Forums. “By developing our reputation for top-level content, we have been able to expand our membership and include women from more professions and backgrounds than ever,” she said. “As Women & Hi Tech grows, I hope we continue to explore concrete and tangible ways to propel women in STEM forward in Indiana.”

    "There are a lot of challenges out there. Women & Hi Tech can help women in Indiana actually break the glass ceiling versus just talking about doing it".

    Deborah is confident Women & Hi Tech will positively influence women in STEM because of the strength and brilliance of the community that supports its success. “It used to be that women in STEM may have felt they had to stay among males to connect with peers. But now we are finding and supporting each other, and we know we can succeed in STEM fields in Indiana. For twenty years, Women & Hi Tech has been at the center of that amazing shift. I hope I have left this incredible organization better than I found it, and I know it has left me a better person than I was before I joined.”

    Barnes & Thornburg  Barnes & Thornburg Website


  • 01/25/2019 6:00 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

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

    Happy New Year! 2019 represents Women & Hi Tech’s 20th year as a non-profit organization and successfully effecting change to advance women in STEM in Indiana. Founded in 1999 by an academic at Indiana University and a scientist at Eli Lilly, Women & Hi Tech exists to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all. As such, throughout this year, we will provide our signature programs and events (e.g., Executive Women’s Forums, Passport to Hi-Tech, Ignite Your Superpower (IYS), OperationAll, Spring and Holiday Networking events, the Fall Retreat in French Lick, IN, and more) with a particular focus on our theme of "Celebrating Our Past and Investing in Our Future".

    In addition to celebrating our past 20 years of supporting women and girls in STEM in Indiana, Women & Hi Tech has pledged to invest in our future by providing $20,000 of scholarships to female STEM students in Indiana - via our #WHT20for20” campaign.* Women & Hi Tech will also host our official 20th Anniversary Celebration Event, which is scheduled on Friday, August 16, 2019. Scholarships will be presented to the “#WHT20for20” award winners during our 20th Anniversary Celebration Event.

    Many of you have joined us for our biennial signature event, the Leading Light Awards (LLAs), where we recognize the contributions and achievements of female STEM students and professionals in our community. As a follow up to the 2018 LLAs and in preparation for the 2020 LLAs, we intend to celebrate our past 20 years by highlighting our own members who have advanced the cause and careers of women in STEM in Indiana through their contributions to Women & Hi Tech.

    Accordingly, we would like to introduce you to our first edition of the new Women & Hi Tech newsletter entitled Grown from STEM. As a celebration of this, our 20th Anniversary year, Grown from STEM will feature short biographies of Women & Hi Tech Board members who have made a significant impact in our community through their contributions to this organization. In doing so, we hope to shed some light and provide real-life examples of the different roles, organizations, and industries where women in STEM make an impact, and the paths they took to get there. In this inaugural edition of Grown from STEM, we highlight our President, Darcy Lee, and the CEO of Pass the Torch for Women Foundation, Deb Hallberg, who is an Emeritus Board member of Women & Hi Tech.

    In their professional lives, Darcy and Deb possess expertise in the area of Business Development for STEM organizations, such as an agency that serves clients in STEM or a law firm that protects STEM technologies. Please enjoy our first edition of Grown from STEM, where Darcy and Deb provide their perspective on the past evolution and future growth of Women & Hi Tech and the advancement of women in STEM in Indiana.

    Kind regards,

    Angela B. Freeman, Esq.
    Women & Hi Tech President-Elect and 20th Anniversary Committee Chair
    presidentelect@womenandhitech.org

    *For more information on sponsoring a scholarship, please contact Rebecca Bormann, our Corporate Engagement Director at corpsponsor@womenandhitech.org.


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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. 
Women & Hi Tech, 133 West Market Street, #220, Indianapolis, IN 46204

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