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


  • 03/27/2020 1:02 PM | Anonymous

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

    As many of you know, March is Women's History Month, and its purpose is to inspire, commemorate, and encourage the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. Many significant advancements and impactful change, in all facets, in our Country's history including, human rights, government, equity and inclusion, philanthropy, business, and innovation in the STEM fields, are due to the courageous, intelligent, and ingenious women leaders who have gone before us. As Women & Hi Tech furthers our mission, to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all, celebrating and honoring diverse women in STEM and lifting-up and inspiring diverse girls is at the forefront of what we do. We invite you to take a moment to celebrate the women in our history and to continue to celebrate, support, and encourage women and girls in their honor, not just in March but year-round.

    I had the opportunity this month to attend a women's groups sharing meeting as a representative of Women & Hi Tech. The meeting was orchestrated by Indianapolis Women's Empowerment Network (I-WEN,) who brought together about a dozen groups including, Pass The Torch for Women, Network of Women in Business (NOWIB), Junior League of Indianapolis, Chiefs in Intellectual Property (ChIPs) and several others. The agenda of this meeting was threefold;1- Learn what the organizations are and their missions; 2 - Learn what resources each has amassed to educate, empower, and improve the lot of women in the professional world; 3 - Share the ideas that may flow. The ultimate purpose of the meeting was to learn how women's organizations can work together to achieve common goals.

    I am delighted that many of the groups at the meeting were already collaborating with multiple women's organizations. During the meeting, many ideas surfaced to create and further partnerships and collaborations with the common goal of equity for all women in business. I would also like to inform you that in I-WEN's research to create the sharing meeting, they found over 100 women's organizations in Indianapolis. I find this to be truly exciting!

    In light of the unprecedented time we are in as a local, national, and global community with the COVID- 19 pandemic and stay at home orders; many are looking for ways to stay connected. I want to reassure you there are numerous opportunities to get involved, even now, and stay connected with being part of organizations like Women & Hi Tech and so many others. Many groups are hosting virtual networking and professional development meetings leveraging technology platforms like Zoom, Teams, and Webex; committees are being held virtually, and mentoring and one-on-one sessions continue via Facetime and video chat. If you are looking for ways to stay involved, be part of a community and stay connected, I encourage you to check out this link with over 40 women's groups, right here, in Indy

    In this 15th edition of "Grown from STEM," Women & Hi Tech would like to feature our own, rock star entrepreneurs who have each established their own STEM-related woman-owned organization. First, Women & Hi Tech is delighted to introduce you to our K-12 Outreach Director, Amanda McCammon, founder, and owner of Ingenuity, LLC. Next, we are excited for you to meet long-time Women & Hi Tech Member, Kristen Cooper, founder, and owner of The Startup Ladies. Both of these women are trailblazers in their own right, identifying a gap, and then creating and building businesses to close that gap. We invite you to read more about Amanda and Kristen and how their STEM backgrounds, business acumen, and passion for helping other women and girls drives their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Kind Regards,

    Rebecca Bormann
    Women & Hi Tech President-Elect

  • 03/27/2020 1:01 PM | Anonymous

    Amanda McCammon was recruited as the K-12 Outreach Director for Women & Hi Tech due to her passion for improving Indiana’s educational ecosystem, especially STEM education. Over 15 years working on the front lines of education, she taught multiple subjects, worked as a building administrator, student services director, assistant superintendent, and beyond. Eventually McCammon found herself in the rare position of appreciating the whole spectrum of education. “From high income to low, working in rural, urban, and suburban areas, I have served families all over the State of Indiana,” she said. And what this experience showed her was unsurprising—school systems need help.

    “Schools today are serving youth and families in every aspect imaginable, emotional, social, safety, and food needs. For many families the school is the end-all, be-all of the support they receive. After some time in the field, you start to see it truly is more about human services than just education services.”

    In 2017, McCammon joined the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) as Chief of Workforce & STEM Alliances. “I facilitated the work of the STEM council responsible for authoring Indiana’s 6-year STEM strategic plan, which was developed to amplify and align STEM education efforts across the state.” She said one of the most exciting things to come out of this experience was a better understanding across the state of how Indiana defines STEM. “Everyone has had their own definition of STEM. But now at the state level, STEM education means teaching real-world problem solving and analytical and critical thinking skills, often through project-based learning.” McCammon said that this insight is of essential value to her role helping Women & Hi Tech achieve more impact at the K-12 level. “We have to make sure our members’ time, treasures, and talents are contributing to initiatives that actually meet the needs of both formal and informal educators across all areas of our state.”

    McCammon added that the legislation around education is always changing, and one of the biggest barriers for many schools is the ability to understand how and why changes impact their classroom and their community. “What drove me to step out and become an educational consultant was seeing a lack of capacity, not because of talent, but because of the sheer amount of work that is asked of both formal and informal educators.” Amanda said every legislative session seems to add more work to an already full plate. Whether it’s new mandates for educators to teach about employability skills, work to develop a workforce pipeline, or changes in assessment or accountability, these impact multiple levels across the educational system. “Even when a bill is a good thing in the big picture, it’s not always a priority to communicate and connect the dots all the way down through the district, to the building, to the classroom, and to our families. It’s essential to make them see not only why the change happened, but the goal we will achieve with it as a State. Educators must be included in these conversations and decisions.”

    Leaving the employment of the State, McCammon realized this put her back in a position to have critical conversations with people at the ground level. So, she started her own consulting business, Ingenuity, LLC. “Working for the State, you represent the larger voice of state government, but as a consultant, you can take that knowledge and go directly into a school to help them connect the dots between theory and practice in a way that makes sense for them and their families.” This especially applies to helping educators in the field understand current legislation and the potential effects of coming changes. “Historically, we have relied on memorization and checking off boxes on a list of requirements to prove the quality of our education. We need to consider the practices and abilities we need to embed into our teaching and learning so students can go anywhere, and in any field. Students must be able to think critically, come up with multiple solutions, and problem-solve.” McCammon currently serves schools, districts, non-profits, and communities in various areas of need including through strategic planning support as well as curriculum and program development. McCammon’s goal is to support positive change while serving as a knowledge resource, partner, and liaison in the efforts across our State to improve engagement, outcomes, and growth for our students, families, and communities.

    Amanda believes Women & Hi Tech can play an essential role in bringing STEM education and resources to students in rural or underserved areas. “All these legislative mandates influence what our teachers have time to do in the classroom, which informs what we need to do outside the classroom to support their efforts. As an organization, we have to get out of central Indiana and take our services Statewide, to anywhere female students have low access to STEM opportunities.”

    When she pictures Women & Hi Tech 20 years from now, McCammon says she hopes it looks completely different—or might not even need to exist at all. “We exist because, over the last two decades, someone has needed to take the reins to get more women in STEM. That’s an issue of the past that we are still trying to correct. Hopefully in 20 years that’s a problem that is solved and we have shifted to a different mission—a mission to solve the STEM problems of the future.”

    LinkedIn Profile

  • 03/27/2020 1:00 PM | Anonymous

    In 2014, Kristen Cooper made the leap from working in the nonprofit industry to working in tech. Why? “I had kind of a bad day back in 2011,” she jokes. Cooper attended a venture-focused luncheon, one she had been attending for years. “There were a few hundred people in the room - almost all men. On that particular day, someone sat next to me who said something very nasty about politics. Afterward I thought, ‘I am so tired of listening to people whose values are not in alignment with mine.’ They didn’t listen well and weren’t interested in my perspective.” That same day, Cooper closed a huge deal, but felt no joy about it like she typically would have.

    “I said to my husband, ‘I have this incredible Rolodex and I don’t want to spend time with anyone in it. Why can’t there be a Match.com for friends?’ Facebook wasn’t a behemoth yet.” As Cooper struggled to find people in Indianapolis with similar values, whimsical conversations became more and more serious, until she was getting buy-in for her idea from members of the tech community. That’s when she decided to make the leap. “I started sketching out a wireframe and began raising money before I knew anything about how to build software or technology.” A small software development firm called Sticksnleaves loved the idea of a friend-finding app and helped Cooper develop a non-functioning prototype.

    Though she developed an incredible support network and raised over $80,000, Cooper never brought that product, Friendtro, to market. That effort would require funding in the tens of millions of dollars. “But even a failed tech product, as we all know, can be a major step forward. For me, that step was learning the process of how to build technology.” Cooper saw this as a very unifying and logic-based experience. “When meeting with software experts they poked holes in concepts for the sole purpose of making the product better. No personal or political agenda. I fell in love with that. I had never felt more comfortable in business than I did talking about building tech.”

    Soon, her collaborators at Sticksnleaves invited Cooper to join their team as the Vice President of Operations and Corporate Development. “They offered to teach me to build technology if I could help them with operations and business development. It was a major pay cut,” Kristen admitted, “but very few women get this opportunity and they were interested in making a trade that could propel my career into an entirely different industry.”

    Cooper is grateful that longtime member of Women & Hi Tech, Tonya Hanshew, got her involved shortly after they met at a coworking space in 2014. “Too many women talk themselves out of starting a company, in part because not enough people around them have done it successfully,” Cooper said. “In many ways, Women & Hi Tech is like exposure therapy. The more professionals that you meet like you rising up in STEM, the more comfortable you feel doing the same.”

    Though she joined the Sticksnleaves team with gusto, Cooper still wondered what could have gone differently with Friendtro. She wanted to meet more female founders who had successfully completed exits. “I started introducing myself to women in the ladies room at the coworking space. One day, I actually closed a deal in that bathroom! After laughing about the rarity of having the opportunity to do business with fellow women in this space, I suggested that we go to lunch.” One lunch with three women led to monthly lunches with more and more attendees. Soon this led Kristen to create a list of everything she wished she had known, or still wanted to know, about founding a tech startup. “I just started matching experts in my rolodex with the topics I needed to learn about. I set up twice-monthly events to get people to share this information. That was the beginning of my path to founding The Startup Ladies--camaraderie, education, and now, funding.”

    Today, Cooper is CEO and Founder of The Startup Ladies, an organization committed to educating founders and investors alike about startups, and the massive gender disparity in the market. “In 2019 136.5 billion was invested into startups, and less than 3% of that went to female founders,” she explained. “There are so many problems that have been identified by women and people of color in the STEM community. Most of our members do not have access to a network of people who could write checks to fund a proof of concept. The profile of most of our founders looks like this: they became an industry expert, identified a problem, came up with a solution, and never built a business or tech before. We educate entrepreneurs focused on scalable business models, regardless of the industry.

    The Startup Ladies operates in 3 cities with over 170 members, and has helped members raise over $300,000 in funding. Kristen emphasized that her involvement with Women & Hi Tech was essential in the early days and remains essential as the two organizations work together to connect women to opportunities in STEM. “We have different yet complementary missions and are constantly seeking ways to help each other be bigger and better. We are doing this now, so more women can achieve similar goals in the future, without unconscious and conscious bias against them.”

    When thinking about the future, Cooper hopes to see more members of the C-suite (regardless of gender) joining both Women & Hi Tech and The Startup Ladies. “The founders of Women & Hi Tech built a strong foundation for women in STEM in Indiana. We need to capitalize on the momentum and build plans to ensure that all C-suites, boards, and investment deals include 50% women.”

    LinkedIn Profile

  • 03/21/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Women & Hi Tech is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in Indianapolis, IN in 1999 by a female scientist at Eli Lilly and a female academician at Indiana University. For over 20 years, Women & Hi Tech has sought to further its mission to “change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all” by providing mentoring, education, networking, and professional development opportunities, while recognizing and supporting girls and women in STEM in Indiana. Women & Hi Tech is seeking candidates for open positions on its Board of Directors to help further its mission.

    The Women & Hi Tech Nomination Committee is seeking female and male candidates, particularly diverse candidates, for our all-volunteer, working Board of Directors for the following three positions (click the title of the position to see a full description of the position):

    Preferred candidates 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. All Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors are expected to represent the organization in the community. At any given time, a Women & Hi Tech Director will also be responsible for leading her/his own area of responsibility and/or a committee, while also contributing to other areas of the organization, including serving on other committees.

    Multiple nominations for different open positions 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 will take office July 1, 2020.

    CLICK HERE TO APPLY! Applications are due by May 1, 2020. 

  • 03/12/2020 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    Women & Hi Tech is proud and excited to again congratulate our Board Members, Rebecca Bormann and Allison Lipps, CCRC, for being selected as finalists of the 2020 Indy’s Best & Brightest Awards by Junior Achievement, which honors 100 of Central Indiana’s accomplished young professionals who are making their mark in Indianapolis. Several members of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors came out to the Indy’s Best & Brightest Awards Program held at Hilbert Circle Theatre in Monument Circle on March 11, 2020 to support Rebecca and Allison. Rebecca, President-Elect of Women & Hi Tech, was recognized for her leadership in Technology, while Allison, Community Outreach Director of Women & Hi Tech, was recognized for her leadership in Health & Life Sciences.

    “I am humbled and honored to be one of 2020 Indy’s Best and Brightest finalists in the technology category," said Rebecca Bormann. "It’s been exciting to learn about all the finalists excelling in their professions and their dedication and passion for giving back to our community. Congratulations to all the 2020 Best and Brightest finalists and the winner!”

    “It was a true honor to be recognized as a finalist amongst such amazing talent in the Health & Life Sciences field here in Indy," said Allison Lipps. "Thank you Junior Achievement of Central Indiana for a great evening recognizing all 100 finalists — Indy’s Best & Brightest is a shining example of the difference that can be made when a small group of individuals give back to their local community. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to call Indy home, and will forever cherish being named one of Indy’s Best & Brightest.“

    Program attendees were welcomed by stations of local restaurant eateries and spirits. The awards program was co-emceed by an inspiring young female Junior Achievement student, Ellen, who captured attention by her professionalism. The evening also included a powerful keynote address by Aleesia Johnson, Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS).

    We celebrate Rebecca and Allison. Their accomplishments and achievements are clear representations of the STEM expertise and community leadership exemplified by the Directors and members of Women & Hi Tech. Congratulations again ladies!

    Indy’s Best and Brightest was created by Junior Achievement of Central Indiana (JA) to recognize up and coming talent and the next generation of leaders in our community. Indy’s Best & Brightest finalists serve as excellent role models to Junior Achievement students and youth in the Indianapolis community.  Click here to learn more about Junior Achievement and Indy's Best and Brightest.

  • 03/03/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    To support our mission of “changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all,” the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors elected to attend the 2-day diversity workshop entitled Interrupting Racism for Our Children (IRFOC) by unanimous vote. Collectively, the Women & Hi Tech Board, along with some Emeritus members, fully engaged in the IRFOC training facilitated by Jill English and her team at Child Advocates. Needless to say, the IRFOC training workshop was challenging, informative, uncomfortable, and moving.

    The IRFOC training encouraged us to take a hard introspective look at the racial messages and beliefs that are in our “groundwater” from each of our personal upbringings, and how they affect our communication and/or miscommunication, interactions or lack of interactions, with others across racial lines. It also empowered us with knowledge to begin to further research the historical and systemic inequities that have pervaded every institution in this country from their inception, including our healthcare, educational, judicial/criminal justice, and financial institutions – where we currently see some of the most disparate outcomes amongst racial groups.

    In addition, the IRFOC training provided a foundational platform for Women & Hi Tech to begin to analyze and/or update our own policies and procedures to ensure that the opportunities, support, and benefits provided by this organization to the Indiana STEM community at large over the past 20 years are equally available in the future to all Hoosier women despite race, color, creed, or other diverse characteristics. Most importantly, the IRFOC training reiterated the Board’s mission and focus on driving “Equity and Inclusion” not just in STEM, not just in Indianapolis or even Indiana, but in each of our daily lives.

    We were made a better Board, better community citizens, and simply better people by having attended and engaged in the Interrupting Racism for Our Children diversity training. It is our hope that the benefits of having done so will be felt and seen by our organization and our community for years to come. Women & Hi Tech proudly accepts our responsibility to truly and properly contribute to our overall human solidarity.

  • 02/25/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

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

    As Black History Month 2020 draws to a close, I would be remiss as the first African-American President of Women & Hi Tech to not bring attention to the contributions of women of color in STEM fields in this state and country. For example, many of us should be aware and familiar with our own local hero, Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919), alleged to be the first African-American female entrepreneurial millionaire here in Indianapolis and throughout the United States, based on her invention, development, and commercialization of black hair care products. With the movie, Hidden Figures, many of us also became aware of so many other African-American women, such as those who contributed to major technological advances in the NASA space race, such as Katherine Johnson (1918-2020), Dorothy Vaughan (1910-2008), Mary Jackson (1921-2005), and later, Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American female to ever go into space.

    Notably, from the time of drafting this article to the time of its publication, Katherine Johnson, the NASA/STEM trailblazer mentioned above, has just passed away at 101 years old. On behalf of Women & Hi Tech, and particularly diverse women in STEM in this city, state, and country, I’d like to offer my deepest sympathies, thoughts, and prayers to Ms. Johnson’s family and friends. There is no question that we just lost a STEM pioneer, and it is my sincerest prayer that “she may rest in peace.”

    This current turn of events makes even more relevant the pressing need to recognize some of the living female STEM legends amongst us while they are still here. Particularly, in the wake of my most impactful life experience - traveling to South Africa to attend and speak at The 3rd HBCU-HDI Women in STEM conference – I have learned that there are so many other lesser-known African-American female living legends in STEM in our midst that should also be recognized. Women of color who have recently made history or are currently making history as they continue to excel and expand the depth and breadth of STEM leaders to include women of color, particularly African-American women. Women like Dr. Sonya T. Smith (Mechanical Engineering), Dr. Gloria Washington (Computer Science), and Dr. Jean Bailey (Psychology and Human Development) of Howard University, Dr. Leyte Winfield (Chemistry) and Dr. Kimberly Williams (Biology) of Spelman College, Dr. Florastina Payton-Stewart (Chemistry) of Xavier University, and Dr. Carollyn Boykins-Winfrow (Animal Sciences) of Tennessee State University, each of whom is making her mark to demonstrate excellence in STEM and to teach those skills, values, and characteristics to the next generation of female STEM leaders at the named Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). These ladies, along with a few of their students, were my traveling companions on my South African Women in STEM excursion, and it was unquestionably a trip of a lifetime.

    Amongst all of us, however, there was one of our traveling companions who absolutely stood above the crowd, despite the fact that she was likely the smallest of us in physical stature, Dr. Arlene Maclin! Behind Dr. Shirley Jackson, who was honored by President Obama as being the second African-American woman in the U.S. to receive a Ph.D. in physics (from MIT), Dr. Arlene Maclin is only the third African-American woman ever in this country to receive a Ph.D. in physics. Dr. Maclin is also the first woman to ever earn a Ph.D. in physics from Howard University, after receiving a Masters in Physics from the University of Virginia. Not biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, or even tech, which are all challenging and demanding enough in their own right, but physics! Dr. Maclin is undeniably an absolute trailblazer worth celebrating and recognizing even beyond her current recognitions, including The HistoryMakers.

    Throughout her career, Dr. Arlene Maclin worked for NASA, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Maclin was also a research physicist at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and a visiting scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In addition, Dr. Maclin spent much of her career as an academic professor and/or administrator at Morgan State University, Howard University, Hampton University, and Norfolk State University. Proudly, Dr. Maclin admits that she has traveled with students all over the world including China, India, Morocco, and other parts of Africa, such as South Africa on numerous occasions.  She even serves as President, CEO, and entrepreneur of her own company. No question, Dr. Arlene is likely one of the most brilliant women I’ve ever met. But it doesn’t stop there.

    Well beyond her extraordinary intellect, Dr. Arlene is a “pistol”! I’ve heard that term used many times before to describe bold women, but there is no better phrase I would consider to describe the personality of this living STEM legend. Dr. Arlene does not mince words or as they say “she don’t play”! She is worldly, wise, and will let you know exactly what she thinks about any given subject or situation without solicitation. Dr. Maclin is also very serious and strategic about the exemplification of excellence by women of color in the STEM fields, and her standards for excellence are extremely high.

    With all of that sternness, Dr. Arlene is warm, witty, and funny as all get-out. She is full of joy, banter, has a big, bold smile, and a hearty laugh that you can typically hear before you ever see her. My best description of Dr. Arlene Maclin, for those of you who know me, is that SHE IS ME in 20+ years (minus the physics expertise and accolades). In summary, I just had the privilege to spend a week traveling around the world with my future self, and you know what? She’s amazing! Kudos, congratulations, and Happy (upcoming) Birthday to Dr. Arlene Maclin for being a living STEM legend in the U.S., internationally, and worldwide. I am proud and honored to call you a friend and female colleague in STEM.

    In this 14th edition of “Grown from STEM,” Women & Hi Tech would like to feature our own scientific living legends. First, Women & Hi Tech is excited to introduce you to our Community Outreach Director and clinical research scientist at the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center, Allison Lipps. We are also excited for you to meet Women & Hi Tech member, Maria Rosario Doriott, Senior Quality Engineer at Beckman Coulter Life Sciences. Please read more about Allison and Rosario and how their STEM backgrounds, business acumen, and passion for helping other women drives their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

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

  • 02/25/2020 7:59 AM | Anonymous

    For Allison Lipps, the world of STEM has always been about connecting with others. Throughout her studies and professional career, she has maintained a focus on relationships and using her work to affect change for individuals. In fact, that desire for connection is what drew her to Women & Hi Tech in the first place.

    “I had moved to Carmel for work and was feeling disconnected. I wanted to find some like-minded individuals, so I Googled ‘women’s science organizations,’ and came across Women & Hi Tech,” she said. “I’ve always been a hard science girl, and I thought maybe the organization wouldn’t be for me, that it landed more firmly on the technology side of things. But I went to a few events and started volunteering, as well as met Past President, Darcy Lee. She really took me under her wing and was so inspiring, encouraging me to continue to get involved. Sure enough, the more events I attended, the more people I started meeting that shared so many of my ideals and goals.”

    After several years of service, Women & Hi Tech elected Lipps as its Community Outreach Director. Though the fit made perfect sense considering her dedication to relationship-building, Lipps still felt a small amount of pressure. Why? Because the Community Outreach Director position didn’t previously exist.

    “I am actually the first person to hold this role. I know there’s no real pressure, but I want to define this position and make it awesome,” she said, adding that the creation of the position came from new needs and wrinkles for a growing organization. “The organization had grown so large, but we needed to identify all the things happening around the city we were missing. We needed to work on outreach. My vision is to appeal to our male allies, as well as a more diverse base of women. We don’t want to outgrow connections or miss them entirely.”

    For Lipps, pursuing science was basically a foregone conclusion from a young age. Growing up near Indianapolis, she says her naturally inquisitive mind truly came alive as result of a childhood accident and what she calls a “dorky story.”

    “I broke my arm in kindergarten, and it was a pretty bad break,” she said. “I remember sitting at the doctor and asking a million questions. Why did they have to reset the bone? How does the x-ray work? What about the plaster for the cast? How long would it take to heal and what would it look like after it healed? I was just fascinated with finding out the answer for all these questions.”

    But helping her along the way was her own father, who encouraged all his children to be lifelong learners. “Since I was little, my dad recognized that desire for information in me. He’s been involved in software development since the 80s. I’m really fortunate that even when I didn’t recognize it, he has provided me knowledge in so many different areas of technology. He even parented with the Socratic method, pushing me and my siblings to ask questions and figure things out on our own. That helped me to step into every science or technology role I’ve had, all just from hanging out with my dad.”

    Upon arriving at Purdue University for her undergraduate studies, Lipps pursued the newly-established cognitive neuroscience program. Sadly, while in college, tragedy struck when her brother suddenly passed away. Lipps said that “life just sort of stopped” for her, especially during her time of grief. Ultimately, she decided to hold off on pursuing a medical degree, instead focusing her efforts on working with autistic children, particularly in the development of language skills. Much of this work revolved around clinical studies, which quickly became a huge passion for Lipps. By the time she left Purdue, it was becoming obvious that she could meld her love for knowledge and research with her passion for helping people in the best way she could.

    “I eventually went into research at the IU School of Medicine in downtown Indianapolis,” she recalled. “I started talking to a bunch of doctors. They were really unhappy with the way insurance quotas and turnarounds prevented them from spending a lot of time with their patients. I saw that research was a chance for me to immediately impact people with my work. Throughout my career anytime I’ve tried to go places where I’m not working to help individuals, my soul dies a little bit.”

    Lipps presently serves as the Research Operations Coordinator at Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center (IHTC). Much like her experience joining Women & Hi Tech, her role at IHTC began with the creation of a position perfect just for her skillset.

    “I had applied for a completely different position,” she explained. “But after some conversations, they said, ‘We think you’re really great, but think you’d be overqualified. However, we are considering creating a position. Are you interested?’ I jumped at the chance.”

    Lipps describes her work as being a blend of several disciplines, including project management, client relations, database management, and, of course, clinical study. She’s also involved in writing training programs for the staff. Though she’s been with the company for only a year, Lipps said she feels like she’s found a perfect fit.

    “I love it here. IHTC was founded 20 years ago, just like Women & Hi Tech, and it was founded by two women. We are also a nonprofit and do wraparound care, meaning we treat patients as a whole here. It checks all my boxes. So, even when I’m in the minutia of my day to day, I know we are working on life changing studies and bringing new drugs to market. I literally feel like every day something new, great, and mind-blowing is happening here.”

    When Lipps thinks about the future for Women & Hi Tech, she says she wants to press onward and upward, providing role models to young women, mentors to folks in STEM, and serving a larger population throughout the Midwest.

    “Research shows that role models encourage women to stay in STEM, and Women & Hi Tech does a great job of doing that. We’re also helping to overcome implicit and explicit bias about women and STEM. A lot of people talk about pipeline issues. As an industry, we’re doing a great job of getting women into the pipeline, but not so great about encouraging and supporting them to stay there. Women & Hi Tech steps in and fills that gap by using role models, outreach, mentoring, and networking to help women.

    I hope we continue to focus on outreach programs by reaching more male allies, reaching a bigger area of the state, and outreaching to more diverse women in different socioeconomic levels. I want to make the benefits of Women & Hi Tech accessible to anyone who wants them so they can have access to the same opportunities I had.”

  • 02/25/2020 7:58 AM | Anonymous

    With the passion that Maria Rosario Doriott has shown for Women & Hi Tech, you might think she had been part of the organization for decades. Despite only becoming involved in 2019, Doriott, a Senior Staff Development Quality Engineer at Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, said she’s been looking for a way to get involved for quite some time.

    “I became aware of Women & Hi Tech at least 12 years ago,” she said. “I had been a fan of them for so long that when Danaher, our parent company, recently launched a very large diversity and inclusion program I thought, ‘If I can’t sell this now, I never will.” I contacted Angela Freeman, President of Women & Hi Tech, and right away the Board was really fantastic and responsive to my enthusiasm to join. Soon I was given the green light for us to become a sponsor. Women & Hi Tech provided materials and made a presentation for women and friends at my company. The board members were here to enroll people on the spot, and the response was huge. The event was standing room only, and we signed up over 60 women in the first presentation alone.”

    Since teaming up and serving as liaison for Beckman Coulter Life Sciences’ sponsorship, Doriott has continued to promote events and encourage everyone, not just women, to join.

    “We’re seeing increased involvement and engagement from men in different areas of our business. They are seeing the value of the Women & Hi Tech message, and how aligned the organization is with our internal diversity and inclusion program.”

    Much like her passion with Women & Hi Tech, Doriott has shown enthusiasm for all things STEM and education since she was a little girl. Hailing originally from Mexico, she recalled how her father served as a source of inspiration and motivation for her and her six siblings.

    “I am the first one in my family in Mexico who attended high school. However, both my parents were highly interested in us finding an education. My father would routinely come to his five daughters and say, ‘I’ll tell you right now you’re not allowed to do anything until you bring me a college degree. Don’t even think about marriage or anything else. I don’t care in what, but it better be in something you care about. I am not going to have my daughters stuck in a place they don’t like because they can’t support themselves.’ That was the message we had as children.”

    With a supportive family behind her, Doriott continued to show great promise in her studies. She recalled that while her sisters were asking for after-school ballet lessons, she instead opted for tutoring in both English and French languages (a life-changing decision!). But her drive to pursue STEM came after her father brought home a toy engine for her brother to assemble, only to discover it was Rosario that took the most interest.

    “My father sat at the table to help with my brother, but he couldn’t care less. He was flat-out bored. I, on the other hand, was fascinated with the entire process. He explained to me all the parts and how they worked, we put the engine together and it worked! I had always enjoyed reading, but then I became interested in math and physics because that was a way to learn how things worked. All of this because of a small toy that wasn’t even for me.”

    After graduating high school, Doriott decided to pursue electrical engineering studies at the prestigious Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education located in Monterrey, Mexico. Though she was the only woman in her program, Doriott said she never found herself flustered or turned away from her dreams. “It didn’t matter to me, I never thought of myself as being alone or different. I always wanted to carry my own weight, and no one is going to make me feel less-than or different. I respected them and they respected me (we are still friends, 40 years later!).”

    After receiving her degree, Doriott found herself hired as a lead engineer for a new RCA plant opening in Mexico. Though she was only 22, she flourished as she established key processes for the factory, helped hire the rest of the engineering team, and served as a company leader for the new location. Soon she came to Indy and for 27 years, grew through the ranks at RCA/Thomson from component design engineer to Executive Management. Now in her role at Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, Doriott has continued to be an inspiration and community leader, a mentor and coach in her field (Quality and Design Controls), as well as for her own children.

    “I have helped overcome the stereotypes for Hispanics and Women in Engineering. It’s so important to demonstrate that we are able to carry heavy professional responsibilities, at every executive and social level and with no compromise in either results or expectations of integrity and excellence. At the same time, and with the help of my husband, we have been able to raise a family, and my two children are happy and successful lawyers. All this happened while maintaining my sense of self without apologies for my gender or background.”

    When asked what Doriott sees as the future for Women & Hi Tech, as well as the STEM field at large, she sees nothing but potential for growth.

    “Our future is bright, we have unlocked a tremendous potential for society and for our STEM industries growth. How exciting it is to be a part of this group and to contribute my experience, passion and talent to motivate the next group of strong women to join a field where we can solve any problem!”

  • 02/14/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    As a follow-up to the inaugural program in 2018, Women & Hi Tech hosted a “Special Edition” of its Executive Women’s Forum (Part II) on February 5, 2020.  The program was organized by Angela B. Freeman, President of Women & Hi Tech, to highlight the organization’s mission that emphasizes equality and inclusivity amongst women in STEM and the organization’s continued focus on increasing the diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM here in Indiana and within their organization. 

    The event entitled, “A Double Whammy or Triple Threat: The Disparity of Diversity Amongst Women in STEM,” was held to provide practical tips and tools on how to advance diverse female talent in the workplace.  The program began with a privilege exercise and a discussion about empathy, followed by a premiere panel of female STEM experts who shared their personal and professional experiences and offered suggestions on practical tools we can all employ to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion amongst women in our Indiana STEM community and workplace environments.

    Dawn Rosemond, Partner and Director of Diversity, Professional Development, and Inclusion at Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, served as moderator and opened the panel describing the various dimensions of diversity and how the most inclusive teams incorporate members with broad dimensions of diversity.  While it is historically recognized that corporations have required a business case for diversity to get actionable about establishing inclusive environments, that case has since been made by national statistics and proven outcomes of diverse teams. “If we still have to make a business case for diversity in 2020, then you don’t really care about diversity,” Dawn exclaimed. 

    Moreover, Dr. Crystal Morton, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Director of Girls in STEM Institute at Indiana University-Indianapolis, noted that diverse candidates recognize when they have been hired at an academic institutions or corporation to fill a quota.  Dr. Morton advised that “institutions must make sure that they are hiring diverse talent into environments that are not toxic, but are healthy and well positioned to provide the necessary support for diverse women to thrive.”  In this regard, retired Eli Lilly Director of Medical Communications, Dr. Elcira Villarreal, noted that “the composition and value set of the candidate selection committee is critical to ensure the recruitment and fair consideration of diverse female talent in any organization.” 

    Once hired, the panel noted that there are additional challenges experienced by diverse women that are not necessarily experienced by majority or Caucasian women.  The old adage taught to so many diverse women that “you have to work twice as hard to get half as far,” was unanimously determined by the panel to be an unhealthy and unfruitful practice.   Notably, Dr. Sonya Smith, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Howard University, described the phenomenon coined as “pet to threat,” which is particularly relevant to women of color and African-American women as they encounter professional advancement and independence.  Leena Victoria, President and Co-Founder of Brite Systems, Inc., reiterated that “pet to threat” was a real phenomenon that she personally experienced in her career as she advanced from being a new software programmer to being the owner of her own technology company.

    Additional challenges were highlighted by Professor Xuan-Thao Nguyen, Director of the Center for IP Innovation at IU McKinney School of Law, who provided several examples of how she has encountered personal and financial sacrifices, threats, resistance, and/or extreme unfairness when trying to advocate and lobby for more diverse talent in the faculty of several law school institutions in this country.  However, Professor Nguyen encouraged the audience to remain unrelenting, unapologetic, and vigilant in your efforts to push your institutions to establish an equitable and inclusive environment for diverse STEM talent, particularly diverse women.  Additionally, Linda Calvin, Vice President of School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College, encouraged the audience to address challenging situations around diversity head on and to not allow them to fester.  Ultimately, the audience was challenged to utilize their privilege as STEM professionals to help and champion other women, particularly diverse women.

    All attendees were provided worksheets highlighting the “Dimensions of Diversity,” “Privileges vs. Barriers/Obstacles,” and a diversity dictionary comprising “The Top 20 Terms You Need to Know to Be Inclusive,” provided by Julie Kratz of Pivot Point.  The audience was also provided the following takeaways and action items to build work cultures that attract, retain, and/or advance diverse female STEM talent. 

    1. Incorporate members representing broad dimension of diversity to increase “Diversity of Thought” of teams
    2. Be aware of your privilege, the gradations of privilege, and use your privilege to empower others
    3. Forge strong relationships, leverage your position, and have the integrity to be your authentic self
    4. Do not work twice as hard, but demonstrate excellence in all that you do and how you show up
    5. Expose diverse girls/women and engage male allies
    6. Use your network and be an advocate
    7. Manage work environments to promote inclusion
    8. Service, training, & teambuilding expectations or requirements should be tied to or reflected in compensation and/or career advancement
    9. Empathy is humanness – One does not have to understand or know to advocate or act
    10. Women have a responsibility to mentor; mentees are not offspring
    11. “Girl Power” is required for diverse women to advance
    12. Build Your professional network to include organizations having qualified diverse candidates

    Attendees socialized at a networking reception to conclude Women & Hi Tech’s 2020 kickoff event. 

    Pictures from the event can be found here on our website.

    A video recap of the event can be found on YouTube.

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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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