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

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  • 11/30/2019 10:01 PM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    For many Women & Hi Tech members, they pursued a STEM field from a young age. However, for unique individuals like Carol Ganz, the journey to the STEM industry has been a lifelong and interesting one.

    “I actually graduated college with a degree in agricultural marketing,” said Ganz. “I had original goals of joining the Chicago Board of Trade. I also eventually became a professional chef and worked 12 years for a heating and cooling company. Eventually a friend of mine said ‘Come work for my tech company.’ I said, ‘Doing what?’ and she said, ‘Don’t worry, we will figure it out.’”

    That leap of faith into the unknown world of software sales and development has proven to be a good one for Ganz. Since joining Indianapolis-based Six Feet Up in 2006, Ganz has served in a variety of roles. However, the majority of her tenure has been spent as Director of Client Experiences.

    “I started as a project manager,” said Ganz. “I was handling some of the office management, such as in the construction and renovation of our new offices. But because of my people skills, I ended up coming into sales. Now I’m focused on client experiences and client relationships. I want to make sure everyone gets that white glove experience, from the smallest to the largest client. In the end, I’m all about being an advocate.”

    It’s that same commitment to advocacy that drove Ganz to join up with Women & Hi Tech roughly six years ago. She spoke about her love for helping and interacting with those around her, particularly when mentorship is involved.

    “I wanted to be somewhere you could really make a difference. That’s one of the same qualities that drew me to the organization, getting to go and talk to people, help people, and mentor them. In fact, it’s great even if it’s accidental mentoring. You could just be having a meeting with someone, and suddenly something you’ve said ends up moving the needle for them in a positive direction.”

    In her second year on the Board of Women & Hi Tech, Ganz has truly utilized and enhanced her people and organizational skills as the Membership Administration Director. Retrospectively, Ganz’s board tenure began as a voluntarily assumed non-voting board role to assist the Board of Directors to operate the group’s member management system ensuring that sponsors and members alike got the most out of their membership experience. Ganz showed such expertise, leadership, and value in this voluntary role with her management and interpersonal skills that the Board created a new voting position that Ganz currently holds. In this board role, Ganz leads and supports the operational infrastructure by which Women & Hi Tech interacts with corporate and individual members in the community. All along the way, Ganz has found the community to be one of the most important aspects of Women & Hi Tech.

    “I knew that I needed to find my tribe. I needed people who spoke my same language, people who knew how to help me get my feet under me as far as the sales side of things go,” said Ganz. “Women & Hi Tech lets you meet people in your community, and often times those folks are on your same level.”

    That sense of camaraderie and working with your peers has blended effortlessly with the organization’s dedication to helping members find their voice and their position. This understanding of independence, agency, and personal choice is what Ganz thinks sets Women & Hi Tech apart from other organizations.

    Women & Hi Tech realizes that “[y]ou don’t always have to work upwards to increase your span or impact. Horizontal movement and lateral connection can be and often are just as important or effective. Not everyone wants to move up a corporate ladder. They just want to do something that they have passion for and be an agent of change and improvement in their environments or communities,” said Ganz. “Every little thing you do can affect someone, even if it feels like nothing to you.” Ganz points to Women & Hi Tech’s passion for helping others and growing inclusivity as cornerstones of the organization’s mission and future.

    “Everyone has become more aware that what they’re doing affects others and folks are more and more understanding of the importance of being inclusive. We discuss these needs all the time. For example, Women & Hi Tech’s OperationALL is a program to invite male leaders to hear what others experience in the STEM workplace and how to be a champion of increased inclusivity. Even our Executive Women’s Forum is based around networking with peers from other organizations. There’s always that importance of reaching out to those around you to help people grow. That’s my passion, and I get to explore it in this organization.”

    Over the last several years, Women & Hi Tech focused its mission on diversity, equity, and inclusion of all women in STEM, including at all ranks and reach of any organization, including our own. For example, Women & Hi Tech currently has its first woman of color as President, a clear demonstration of the organization’s dedication to diversity at all ranks of our own organization. And, while we are nowhere close to where we’d like to be, Women & Hi Tech continues to make purposeful advances to ensure that our organization continues to include, expose, inspire, support, and promote all women in STEM.

    When asked about the next 20 years of Women & Hi Tech, Ganz wants Women & Hi Tech to continue the journey for inclusivity, regardless of where on the gender spectrum folks may fall. “I want to see gender and sexual orientation not be a discussion, but an accepted inclusion metric across the board. Whether you identify as bi, queer, pan, or gender fluid, I want it to be a non-discussion and for everyone to be honored for who they are. If we can make Women & Hi Tech a safe space for all, including gender fluid and non-cis people, I’ll be happy,” said Ganz. “We need inclusive to include everybody.”

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  • 11/30/2019 10:00 PM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    Variety is the spice of life for Rajinder Heir. The Women & Hi Tech Active Emeritus Board member and former Director of Corporate Sponsorships has led a life in STEM that weaves its way through a plethora of sectors and life experiences. Though Heir first joined the board of Women & Hi Tech in 2013, the Indianapolis-based C-suite tech executive has been familiar with the organization since its inception.

    “I was on the membership roster several years before joining the Board,” said Heir. “I was struck by the professional breadth of members, as well as the opportunities for networking.”

    Once Heir joined the board, she quickly found a home and purpose working to strengthen and grow the partnerships that help drive Women & Hi Tech. While the organization always knew the importance of the sponsorship process, Heir saw a chance to make a difference by revamping the materials used to cultivate sponsor relationships. “I saw a need for promotional materials that would put the organization’s best foot forward,” she said. “The foundation built by others was a good jumping off point. I set out to create a new stakeholder experience to communicate the value of engagement with Women & Hi Tech.”

    When asked about her inspiration, Heir said one word comes to mind, “Empathy, “recalling how she felt for a governmental agency relying on IT services she was managing as COO during a data center shutdown. Similarly, “I immediately put myself in the shoes of these businesses and organizations, some of whom may not have heard of us. It was my responsibility to be a brand ambassador for Women & Hi Tech in the Corporate Sponsorships role.” In doing so, Heir utilized her leadership skills and professional relationships to help grow awareness and exposure of the organization resulting in increased corporate sponsorships for the organization.

    Though Heir didn’t have specific STEM role models growing up, she found encouragement from her father who shared his early experiences as a new immigrant from India to the United Kingdom. “My dad arrived in the UK with no English language skills and endeavored to advance his family in challenging times. Myself, I didn’t learn English until I was 5, but it quickly became my favorite school subject, even in college. By happenstance, I met with an education and career advisor, who referred me to a technology program that I was accepted into.”

    Heir said it didn’t take long for her interest in the tech industry at-large to grow. “I became consumed by writing code. The structure and logic of it resonated with me.” With a Bachelor’s in Computer Technology with Honors, Heir’s career to date has spanned a variety of fields, which include telecoms, insurance, a high tech software start-up, non-profit, consulting, and the government sector. In particular, after a professional stint in government as Chief Operations Officer of a large IT environment with over 7000 users, Heir has found her most recent position at ESI Technology Advisors, a local long-standing veteran-owned leader in IT solutions and consulting.

    Heir’s professional leadership experiences also fueled her engagement in the Indianapolis community. Her insights about the local community were particularly enhanced by her experience in the competitive Stanley K. Lacy (SKL) Executive Leadership Series and the FBI Citizens Academy program. “I hold these two paradigm shifting community leadership programs in high regard. Each had an impact on my outlook, especially as it pertains to the local community.” In addition to her commitment to Women & Hi Tech, Heir has served on the board of Girls Inc., as Chair of the Technology Task Force and on the Technology Committee for Park Tudor School.

    As a regular mentor to students pursuing STEM, Heir recently had a chance meeting with a young mentee that reinforced the current positioning of Women & Hi Tech. “I was mentoring a male IU student who was close to graduation. I thought about his desired career in tech, and realized that we need to meet men where they are, especially those aspiring middle managers.” “In more than one hiring capacity, I’ve seen first-hand the challenges of gaining a diverse applicant pool for roles, like Network Engineer, for example.”

    Women & Hi Tech continues to recognize the critical importance of male allies in the leadership journey for women in STEM. Heir also recognizes and appreciates Women & Hi Tech’s current focus on increasing engagement of male allies in middle and executive management of women in STEM through its OperationALL program. In this regard, the organization has also created an OperationALL Male Allies Award that will have an inaugural presentation at the Leading Light Awards on October 1, 2020.

    When asked about her hopes for the future of Women & Hi Tech, Heir said she wants to see men take advantage of the broad array of opportunities to get involved with this organization through volunteer, board, and/or committee positions. “We have an opportunity to shine a spotlight on men who endorse the mission of Women & Hi Tech; those that walk the talk and practice what they preach.” While larger corporations often have internal programs to support such diversity and inclusion efforts, we also need community organizations like Women & Hi Tech to engage and recognize our male allies in small businesses, startups, academic, governmental, and non-profit STEM sectors. Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are important for the benefit of all individuals and businesses in the Indiana STEM community.

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  • 10/30/2019 8:02 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

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

    Fall is officially upon us! Tis the season where the days draw short, the air turns brisk, and the leaves change to beautiful autumn hues. Notwithstanding the weather, Women & Hi Tech recognizes that there is no off-season or out-of-season for issues related to opportunity, equity, and inclusion of all women in STEM in Indiana. Therefore, Women & Hi Tech continues to provide strong programming and events to address these relevant and current issues.

    In September, we convened our Fall Retreat at The French Lick Resort for an overnight educational excursion focused on connection, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Retreat attendees dressed in their best 1920’s flapper or gatsby attire, before arriving at the beautiful West Baden Hotel Veranda offering fall foliage, an exceptional buffet meal, photos in a classic car, dancing, games, and gifts. In the spirit of diversity and inclusion, Women & Hi Tech was pleased to welcome our first male attendee this year at the Fall Retreat!

    In October, Women & Hi Tech also hosted over 200 registered attendees at our OperationALLTM event, a training program focused on providing tools for increasing gender inclusion in the workplace. OperationALL is an annual professional development seminar uniquely tailored for male allies, friends, and supporters of Women & Hi Tech to focus on increasing equal opportunities for promotion and advancement of women in STEM fields. This year’s interactive program was facilitated by local and highly-acclaimed leadership trainer, executive coach, and keynote speaker, Julie Kratz. Each attendee also received a complimentary copy of Julie’s book, ONE: How Male Allies Support Women for Gender Equality.

    On November 18, 2019, Women & Hi Tech will host our final Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) of 2019 entitled “Putting Confidence and Self-Worth into ACTION!” This program will be facilitated by Jessica Gendron, President of The Center for Leadership Excellence (see more details in the article below). Primarily focused back on the female STEM population, this professional development seminar will provide tools and tips on how to build confidence and remove “limiting beliefs” as an important step in the career advancement of women in STEM.

    Finally and in response to overwhelming request following the inaugural program in 2018, this event series by Women & Hi Tech will also include a Special Edition EWF entitled “A Double Whammy or Triple Threat Part II: The Disparity of Diversity Amongst Women in STEM.” This program will be held on February 5, 2020 and will feature a privilege exercise, followed by a dynamic panel discussion featuring diverse female leaders across all facets of STEM. Please save the date, as registration will open soon.

    Women & Hi Tech is very proud to offer resources that continue to focus on increasing diversity and inclusivity in STEM in Indiana, and this tenth edition of “Grown from STEM” is no exception. Women & Hi Tech would like to introduce you to our board members who manage technology projects and/or products. More specifically, we invite you to meet the Secretary of Women & Hi Tech’s Board of Directors, Kelly Ragle, a product manager for a cybersecurity company. Emeritus Member, Ali Hromis, also manages computer software solutions for her IT company. Both ladies play key roles in how their corporate customers and clients interface with new technology product solutions. Please read more about Kelly and Ali and how their backgrounds, business acumen, and passion for driving inclusion for all women in the technology sector of STEM fuels their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Sincerely,

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




  • 10/30/2019 8:01 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    Kelly Ragle likes to think she’s been a woman in tech since the age of eight years old. Her first introduction to a computer was in second grade, when she discovered one in the basement of her friends’ house. She became fascinated by the computer, and luckily her friend offered to help her learn how to use it (with her dad’s permission of course). Kelly learned quickly how to navigate the screen, use the mouse, and of course, play computer games.

    Since the first day she saw that computer, Kelly knew she’d always be connected to technology in some way.

    Fast forward to October 2012, and Kelly had just moved to Indianapolis from Chicago. Though technology had been in the background of her career in other cities like Chicago and Atlanta, her role in Indy was in the IT department of a logistics company. This meant a return to her roots, since she had studied Business and Information Systems at IU. And one day, a lightbulb went off that she needed to find other women in tech.

    “When that realization hit me, I turned to Google right that minute,” Ragle described. The search result she landed on was Women & Hi Tech. “I joined as an individual member that night. It was just me saying, I know that my tribe includes women in tech fields, and I need to find them.”

    Ragle began volunteering with Women & Hi Tech as soon as she could, staffing their holiday toy drive gift table and helping with networking events. “It was a way to get in front of people more easily,” she explained. Ragle’s eagerness and dedication to volunteering for Women & Hi Tech led to her being named the 2017 Volunteer of the Year by the organization. This led Ragle to meet and form close relationships with board members, and when 2018 board applications opened up she decided to self-apply. She is currently serving in her second term as Secretary of the Board of Directors.

    “With 15 active board members and 5 active emeritus members—there is a lot of information reported by board members to the board every month,” she said. “It is ridiculous how much we accomplish and as Secretary I get to make that success visible to the Board of Directors. I also make sure we talk about all the important things we need to during the 90-minute meeting we have each month.”

    Ragle’s ability to help the Board stay on track and see each project to completion is supported by her certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute. After moving away from IT support to manage projects for Simon Property Group, she accepted at Pondurance a little over two years ago, and now serves as their Product Manager. Pondurance is an Indianapolis-based cybersecurity consulting and managed services company, with a Security Operations Center that is staffed 24/7/365. Ragle served as product manager and helped guide the development for Pondurance’s very first product to compliment their 24/7/365 threat hunting and response service.

    “There’s a lot of elements of project management in product management. On other types of projects, the budget or schedule or goals could be wildly changing. But with product management, there’s a lot more of the people component. And the product may never be complete,” she added. “Part of my ongoing role is to help our team build the product into something that is continuously more valuable for current and new users alike.”

    Ragle also has thoughts about how to build Women & Hi Tech into an organization with more constant value for new and current members. “Every week we get new sponsors, which means new members,” she said. “With over 1500 members, it’s becoming apparent we need more regular opportunities to both network and volunteer, because its guaranteed someone in our membership will always have that need.” Ragle also pointed out that even today, outside of begin an event volunteer or a board committee member, there aren’t numerous opportunities to get involved with the organization between being an individual or corporate member and being a full-fledged board member. “Expanding what engagement opportunities come in between that space provides opportunity for those 1500 members (and counting) to get involved in a different way.”

    When Ragle thinks of the future ahead for the girls and boys that all learn more about STEM through Women & Hi Tech’s programming, her outlook is bright. “We may not be able to close the gaps for girls everywhere, but we can step in to close them here where we live,” she said.  “Girls with interest in STEM will encounter barriers at all different points of their lives, it’s not guaranteed to happen by a certain age or in a certain way. They must have safe environments going into high school and college.” “I love being a woman in tech in Indy and getting to pave the way for those who come next.”

    “We have so many companies here that have created the cultures in tech and STEM where diverse people are welcome, and desire to be here,” she concluded. “The more that happens, the more attractive Indiana becomes. Those companies leading the way with diversity are the ones who can pave the way. Others hold them up as role models and will emulate what they are doing to succeed.”

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  • 10/30/2019 8:00 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    Women & Hi Tech’s Leading Light Awards has become a cornerstone of the organization’s premiere event lineup. It gives the organization a chance to identify and elevate women who have made waves in the STEM field, particularly those who have acted as tenacious innovators throughout their career.

    While the awards are undoubtedly a team effort, Ali Hromis played an important role in the 2018 iteration of the Leading Light Awards, a long-standing, biennial event for Women & Hi Tech. Hromis showed great dedication to the cause and helped to make the celebration memorable.

    “We knew we wanted the Leading Light Awards  to give meaningful recognition to the women who deserve it” said Hromis. “With the help of a great committee, we were able to make it the largest Leading Light Awards to date and I am so grateful to have helped.”

    Hromis joined Women & Hi Tech back in 2014, after her mentor and former Women & Hi Tech President, Rosanne Burge, urged her to connect with other women in tech in Indianapolis. . She was encouraged to check out the Leading Light Awards, as well as the Executive Women’s Forums. Hromis was impressed with the programming and felt inspired to engage as a member. After her contributions to the 2016 Leading Light Awards, Hromis joined the board as the first Leading Light Awards Director. When the 2018 ceremonies rolled around, she was given the chance to lead the planning and execution of the entire experience.

    Hromis’ efforts focused largely on growing awareness and recognition of women who have contributed to the advancement of STEM in Indiana. Though the awards are already Women & Hi Tech’s most visible event, the 2018 Leading Light Awards landed over 600 attendees. In addition to the spike in attendance and awareness, Hromis worked to attract over 120 nominees for the various awards and scholarships, as well as adding an important new award category.

    “We gave out over $15,000 in scholarships that night. Women & Hi Tech already gives 20% of our sponsorship dollars for scholarship, but community partners contributed even more,” she said. “We also rolled out the Change the Landscape Award. We created it to honor a driving force in changing the landscape for women represented in STEM.”  Hromis looks forward to all of the improvements she and her team implemented during the 2018 program to be capitalized upon at Women & Hi Tech’s 2020 Leading Light Awards being held on October 1, 2020 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, which she expects to be even bigger and better than ever. 

    Hromis’ journey into STEM began somewhat unexpectedly. While attending Valparaiso University, she studied marketing and business as opposed to technology. Though she greatly values her area of study, Hromis said her decision was based in some part on societal expectations.

    “I was a girl and wanted a job where I could make money, so I was supposed to be a business major, right?” she said. “My other options were something like law or medicine, but those didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t even consider studying technology.”

    After graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2011, Hromis joined the team at Apparatus, a technology  firm in the Indianapolis area. While she would end up working in technical roles, her first position at Apparatus was primarily based in tech marketing. She eventually moved into a role analyzing business processes and their supporting systems, which inspired her to learn more about technology. Before long, Hromis was excelling at  tech companies like Allegient (now DMI) and Project Lead the Way, where she led an IT team.

    In 2018, Hromis found a new home at Salesforce’s second largest location in Indianapolis. There, Hromis is a release manager where she coordinates the deployment of code produced by hundreds of engineers.

    “I start with ensuring pre-release requirements are met, then plan and lead teams through the release of new code to customers, until the release has been successfully validated and considered complete ,” Hromis said. “I also play a management role. I’m kind of the quarterback of all these handoffs between teams. While I’m not the only one calling the plays, I am responsible for leading the team through the execution of whatever play is called. We continually analyze releases in an effort to make them more enjoyable and valuable for our customers and our engineers.”

    When asked to reflect on her experience as a woman in the STEM field, Hromis says that while it started off unbalanced, she’s already seen an improvement with inclusion in the workplace.

    When asked the benefits of diversity in the workplace, Hromis makes sure not to mince words.

    “I think it’s incredibly important to have women and minorities on the team.. We need diverse opinions and thoughts and approaches to create better outcomes. I also think that women are uniquely positioned for success in a diverse workplace. We have a tendency to be more empathetic. I’m serving the people I work with, so my engineers are my customers. I know they’re under an incredible amount of stress. But, bringing a sense of empathy to the job helps determine a way to move forward without leaving a path of destruction behind you. Through that empathy, we can manage through complex situations  in a positive and inspiring way, as opposed to a way that demotivates and discourages those we are leading.

    “In short, empathetic roles helps create stronger relationships with our customers but also with our team.”

    Though great changes to the industry are occurring nationwide, organizations like Women & Hi Tech are making measurable impact on the Indiana area. When Hromis is asked her vision for the future of Women & Hi Tech, she’s nothing short of excited.

    “I see Women & Hi Tech as a leader,” she said. “I want the problem we’re addressing to evolve. I hope our mission continues to expand and morph with the problems themselves .”

    But that’s not all Hromis wants out of the next 20 years of Women & Hi Tech. She said that the group should continue to be a champion of inclusivity and a model for those who want to change the world, even if it’s in their backyard. 

    “Now, I want to help other groups get started. I want to show the types of things communities can do with volunteer time to change the world. You don’t need a huge corporation or a huge sum of money. You can just be a group of passionate people acting as an inspiration to others.”

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  • 10/24/2019 8:00 AM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    This year marks Women & Hi Tech’s 20th anniversary as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and we have been “Celebrating Our Past and Investing in Our Future” all year! On September 26-27, 2019, an intimate group of Women & Hi Tech members and friends convened at The French Lick Resort to continue our 20th Anniversary celebration at The Fall Retreat with a focus on connection, relaxation, and rejuvenation. In the spirit of diversity and inclusion, notably, Women & Hi Tech was pleased and honored to welcome our first male attendee this year at the Fall Retreat!

    Informally, the retreat began on Thursday afternoon with the Women & Hi Tech Board participating in a bowling teambuilding event. Later, retreat attendees dressed in their best 1920’s flapper or gatsby attire, before they paraded through the French Lick/West Baden campus to their dinner venue. Resort onlookers, which coincidently included Dr. Sue Ellspermann, President of Ivy Tech Community College, joined the fun by taking pictures and bantering with the retro-clad group.

    The official kickoff of the Fall Retreat occurred with a 1920’s-themed dinner and reception at the beautiful West Baden Hotel Veranda overlooking the fall foliage offered by historic French Lick. In addition to an exceptional buffet meal, the welcome reception included photos and rides in a classic car, dancing, games, and gifts. The evening was capped off with other activities available at the French Lick Resort, including big wins for some ladies at the casino!

    Friday began with activity or personal relaxation time. Attendees then enjoyed a lavish brunch before a powerful and inspiring professional development seminar delivered by keynote speaker, Paula López Reck. Paula’s talk was followed by an open, honest, and critically necessary conversation amongst the attendees representing early, mid, and senior career professionals about the importance and necessity for authenticity, equity, and opportunity in STEM professions in Indiana.

    Women & Hi Tech sincerely thanks all attendees, sponsors, and supporters of this year’s Fall Retreat. It was truly a historic event to cap off a year of celebrating our 20th Anniversary. If you missed this biennial event, Women & Hi Tech invites you to attend the next Fall Retreat in 2021!


  • 09/30/2019 7:01 PM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    As I read the stories of the women highlighted in this edition of “Grown from STEM,” I am reminded of two very important lessons I’ve learned during my professional and personal journey. The first is, we are not alone. We are in it together. In difficult times, when trying to navigate a new situation or when we need guidance or a word of encouragement, all we need to do is be brave enough to raise our hand for a bit of help. There are endless numbers of women and men standing by, ready, and willing to help and support us.

    The second, is the gift we each have to positively impact the lives of others by being willing to share our stories. Your story could be the one that encourages a young girl to go after that big dream to work at NASA, or it could be the story that provides the confidence a professional woman needs to nail her big presentation. Women & Hi Tech offers women and men in STEM many opportunities to raise our hand for help, to share our stories, and to learn from and support one another through networking, professional development, mentoring, and K-12 or collegiate outreach programs.

    In this ninth edition of “Grown from STEM,” Women & Hi Tech would like to share the stories of two board members leading the way in their respective engineering disciplines. Former Women & Hi Tech President and current Active Emeritus member, Tiffany White, is the Head of Engineering Operations for all of Defense at Rolls Royce. Linda Hicks, Executive Women’s Forum Director, spent 33 years working in the field of chemical engineering and is currently the VP of Midwest Operations at ECC Horizon, an environmental consulting firm focused on cleanup and investigations. Both of these women have openly shared some of the challenges they’ve faced being in male-dominated fields and why they are so passionate about organizations like Women & Hi Tech that fill a need to support, inspire, and encourage women and girls in STEM.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tiffany White and Linda Hicks, and all the women in the past editions of “Grown from STEM,” for being willing to share their stories!  As told by our own outstanding ladies of Women & Hi Tech, these stories consistently inspire and encourage me as I hope they do you as well. Please read more about Tiffany and Linda and how their STEM backgrounds and passion for helping other women and girls fuel their involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Sincerely,

    Rebecca Bormann
    Women & Hi Tech President-Elect


  • 09/30/2019 7:00 PM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    Tiffany White has served many roles at Women & Hi Tech. She’s been committee chair, Director of K-12 Programs, Vice President, President, and Past President. But when White, now serving as Emeritus Board Member, speaks about her introduction to the group, she admits it started with some apprehension.

    “A girlfriend of mine was on the board and she was putting together an event. At the time the event was to do something with kids, and she wanted me to help her out in fleshing out the program,” said White. “Initially, I resisted. I said, ‘I don’t know I don’t want to be part of a girl group.’ But she eventually convinced me to join the committee as a one-time deal. Unfortunately, she had to leave quickly for a family emergency, leaving me in charge of the event. That turned into Passport to Hi Tech. Next thing you knew, I was part of Women & Hi Tech.”

    Where she once worried that setting herself apart as a woman in the STEM world might be a negative impact, White now says the organization has been nothing short of a godsend.

    “It shows you the power of the group. It shows you the power of women supporting women. You can still be known for your abilities and accomplishments but having that network of other women backing me up has done a lot for my career and my personal development.”

    Throughout her career in STEM, White has always been one to push back against naysayers or barriers. Even now as a role model for young girls, she’s taken a big shine to providing encouragement in places where there may be a lack of it. As a high-schooler, White said she had a great experience in her biology and chemistry classes, but there was pushback to the notion of her continuing into a science field.

    “I ended up choosing to take physics next in high school. My mom, while she wasn’t being mean, expressed concerns that it would be too hard for me. But I’m one of those people who will set out to prove anyone wrong who says I can’t do something,” said White. “In the end I really loved it, the way that physics explained and quantified the world. When I decided I wanted to pursue STEM as an engineer, I was again told that it would be too hard for me as a girl. But, obviously I wasn’t going to let that stop me.”

    Starting off at Purdue University in 1988, White explained that the negativity toward women in the STEM space was evident. She recalled one incident in which she had missed a class, and asked a friendly male classmate for his notes.

    He said, “Oh sure, I can give you my notes. I’ll photocopy them for you. He did and later slipped them under my dorm room door. But when I got the notes, I saw that he had taken a black Sharpie to all the equations, meaning I couldn’t do the homework. It was an attempt to prevent me from moving forward.”

    While pursuing her degree in aerospace, White was like many other students who dreamed of working at NASA. However, after the recession of 1992, there was a dramatic rollback of jobs in the aerospace fields, as well as space travel. White eventually put her name up for any contract job she could find, and eventually found a spot at Rolls Royce in Indianapolis.

    “I kept saying just get me in the job and I’ll prove myself. I started as a parts expediter and eventually made my way into a proper engineer role.”

    But White had no intention of stopping there, and she didn’t. Since then, she’s worked on and headed up nearly every department one could imagine when it comes to aircrafts and defense technology, including electronics, control systems, engines, and even turbines. In fact, White is now the Head of Engineering Operations for all of Defense at Rolls Royce.

    White looks to organizations like Women & Hi Tech for providing support and leadership to women and girls in the STEM field. But she also knows that the next 20 years for Women & Hi Tech means opportunities to serve a greater population of individuals.

    "Passport to Hi Tech is wonderful, but it’s a paid event. I felt that we weren’t spending enough time with disadvantaged youth and people of color. That’s why I developed Ignite Your Superpower, which has been concentrated on exposing minority girls to STEM. It’s a free event where we partner with schools so that girls with more limited exposure opportunities get a STEM day on a college campus."

    “I want to make sure that going forward, everyone has access to the fantastic programs and resources we provide. For me, that’s great progress.”

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  • 09/30/2019 7:00 PM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

    To say that Linda Hicks’ tenure with Women & Hi Tech started off with a bang is a bit of an understatement. After years of being a leader and mentor in the chemical industries as a chemical engineer, Hicks was awarded the “Mentor Me” Leading Light Award in 2014. Since then, she has been a steady contributor to the organization, continuing to pursue her two loves: STEM and guiding young women.

    “I was drawn to the organization because I like the way they nurture these young ladies. It provides a way for female STEM professionals to feel confident in themselves. Part of it comes from networking and being around other like-minded women, especially ones who are quite accomplished. But it’s also a personal development thing. It gives you the chance to zero in on what you really love to do, what you’re good at, and how to get yourself to that next level.”

    As the Director of the Executive Women’s Forum, Hicks has done just that by building programming that is relevant not only to many STEM fields, but on an individual level.

    “I want to make sure the programming is relevant and helpful to people, and that’s only done through communication and listening to other members and attendees. I hear about what they’re struggling with, as well as the possible solutions, and I go out and target the right relationships to find the right speakers,” said Hicks. “I leverage my own relationships, but I also leverage the relationships that other board members have, as well as ideas that I hear from our members. I try to meld all those ideas together, so that I can put something on that’s meaningful to our community.”

    Hicks had an interest in STEM from a young age. Her father was an electrical engineer, and she grew up in a family that stressed self-confidence and self-discipline. Hicks said that, “He had a vision that me and my sisters would be independent, both financially and in our careers. He saw the possibilities in his own field, and he encouraged me to do something technical.”

    Hicks would eventually pursue engineering, however she chose not to follow in her father’s electrical footsteps. Instead, she decided on a chemical engineering program. When asked what prompted her to study chemical engineering, she explained with a laugh that while she was already interested in chemistry, another factor solidified the decision.

    “Frankly, the only reason why I chose chemical engineering is that I went to a class in high school at Carnegie Mellon where they introduced female students to a variety of engineering types. I saw that chemical engineers made the most. I figured if I’m going to be an engineer, that’s the route I should go.”

    When she enrolled in classes at Grove City College, she was pleased to see that over a quarter of the individuals in the chemical engineering program were women. However, she’s first to admit that the sample size was perhaps a bit too small.

    “Out of 11 of us, five were women. It was weird, we thought that the demographic would be the same when we entered the professional world. But those numbers dropped drastically once I started working. I immediately recognized that there were fewer and fewer women as peers.”

    As Hicks entered the professional world at Reilly Industries (now Vertellus Specialties), she found not only was there a lack of women in her field, but also a lack of respect for women. While working her way up through maintenance engineer, process/project engineer, and eventually on the executive team leading global technology, she encountered unfair and unprofessional treatment from male counterparts.

    “It was pretty scary,” said Hicks. “There were very few women and the environment toward women, particularly in manufacturing at a chemical plant, was pretty antagonistic. I always joke that had there been an organization like Women & Hi Tech in my life then, there would have been far less angst and crying.”

    After a round of buyouts at her company in 2017, Hicks said she was ready to retire after 33 years. However, she was soon contacted by ECC Horizon, an environmental consulting firm focused on cleanup and investigations. Though most of her experience came from chemical manufacturing, Hicks said her commitment to lifelong learning on the job has helped her to become a leader in a very different industry than her primary one.

    “I slugged it out for years and became obsessed with learning every single facet of chemical engineering. That included some levels of environmental work. When we started discussing me coming aboard as VP of Midwest Operations, it all came flooding back. This process of learning on the job and of being a life-long learner, have made me a more well-rounded engineer and leader.”

    When Hicks reflects on her journey through STEM, as well as her time with Women & Hi Tech, she said she’s grateful for the chances given to young women by organizations like this one,” said Hicks. “I think number one, there are more women engaged in STEM and there are better ways to get women in STEM connected with each other. I love that. I wouldn’t have even known how to connect with other women when I was first starting out. There are so many ways that a young woman can get support that I never had.”

    When asked what she thinks of the next 20 years of Women & Hi Tech, Hicks paused and did a little self-reflecting.

    “I think it’s always good to mentor and to be open to mentoring and helping others. I think…I hope, that I’m seen as someone who is approachable, eager, and willing to help another woman looking to advance to the next level,” she said. “I hope the organization continues to grow. I hope the organization continues to find great pathways in the city so that the influence and impact multiplies. I hope we  continue to stress diversity, and prove to others that the best teams are teams that respect and leverage differences.”

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  • 09/12/2019 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 five committees to help continue fulfilling our mission of changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.

    Women & Hi Tech is run by an all-volunteer, working Board of Directors and we don't take the term "working board" lightly. As such, Women & Hi Tech is seeking committee member candidates who are actively engaged with the organization or would like an opportunity to become more actively engaged with the organization. Ideal candidates will also bring wisdom, experience, effectiveness, candor and creative thinking to the organization via their committee role.

    The Nomination Committee for Women & Hi Tech will elect one or more candidates for the following committees:

    Multiple committee role applications by a single candidate are permitted. Qualified male and female candidates, including diverse candidates, are highly encouraged to apply. All applications will be reviewed by the Nomination Committee. Applicants must be Women & Hi Tech members in good standing at the time of initial voting and must remain in good standing throughout their committee tenure.

    Once selected, new committee members will begin their positions on or about November 15, 2019 and most committee roles will last for about 1 year. If a committee role is extended by the Committee Chair, high performing committee members may be asked to extend their tenure on the committee. To assist you with applying for one or more committee roles, please click the links above for descriptions of the open committee positions.  

    To apply for one or more committee roles, please complete this form by October 15, 2019.

    About Women & Hi Tech
    Women & Hi Tech exists to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all. To achieve our goal, we work to advance, promote, support, recognize, and connect female STEM professionals in our community in Indiana.


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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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