EP 38 Recap | Women & Hi-Tech and Pass the Torch for Women Foundation
WOMEN & HI-TECH
The impact that women bring to businesses across industry sectors is immeasurable – their unique skill sets, experiences, and outlook can transform teams. That’s why the relatively low number of female participants in STEM fields is so concerning. That’s also why the non-profit organization Women & Hi-Tech was founded in 1999: to help bridge the gaps from STEM in early education to women in professional fields. Through mentoring, advocacy, networking, and more, Women & Hi-Tech aims to challenge long-held ideas about women’s work capacity and professional prospects in STEM fields.
“I think that’s why mentoring is so powerful,” said Audrey Taylor, President of Women & Hi-Tech. “My personal relationship to the organization has always been through that. It’s an opportunity to be in a room full of amazing women who have either experienced your challenge and have some suggestions or who maybe can’t do anything other than to say ‘I hear your pain but you can get through this.’ But we really are about lifting each other up and celebrating the successes across those fields.”
Women & Hi-Tech supports those continued successes by staying abreast of new data and facilitating solutions to challenges women face in the workforce. By providing training on healthy modeling and helping implement better understanding, Women & Hi-tech seeks not just to create paths but to show the path to young women. The fact that 1 in 5 women who leave the workforce are in STEM fields is concerning and something they are seeking to impact.
“The biggest thing that we do as an organization that is most impactful and meaningful for all of our members, as well as our sponsors, is create meaningful connections between people,” said Darcy Lee, Vice President of Women & Hi-Tech.
In addition to these life-changing mentorships and connections, Women & Hi-Tech offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate women students. There is still time to apply if you are a student in Indiana who plans to stay in the state after graduation. Winners will be announced at their Holiday Party in December.
Taylor feels that part of the support they offer is in confidence-building for young professionals facing challenges that may cause them to leave their field.
“I think you also need the people who tell you to stay the course,” Taylor said. “It’s too often made available to you an alternative choice rather than stick the course.”
PASS THE TORCH FOR WOMEN
Founded in 2011, Pass the Torch for Women Foundation aims to grow women leaders through mentoring and support for community members who typically wouldn’t have the access to those opportunities. Ultimately, the foundation seeks to provide mentorships for professionals and college students with special attention paid to first-generation college students, to provide them support and guidance through fields that can be tricky to navigate.
“Pass the Torch for Women Foundation has a vision of a world where women are equally represented in all levels of business and government,” said Julie Petr, Executive Director of the Foundation.
Also helping support that goal is Ivyworks, an Ivy Tech program partnered with Indy Women in Tech designed to give adult learners needed support to earn credentials and training in fast-growing professional fields. It provides support in networking, development, and more to help support women’s achievements in professional fields.
“With our program some of the barriers we actually help them face head-on,” said Ariel Crawley, Director of Ivyworks. “We offer academic financial support, we assist with transportation, and also with emergency funds. So any kind of layer you might see as a barrier, we are there to assist them. Our goal is to completely get them to their education.”
To help tackle preconceived biases against women in technical fields, Ivyworks offers learning modules in partnership with Women In Tech about professional and leadership development. The focus on teamwork and support for one another carries through to the classroom focus on team building and collaborative work for equal representation.
The message from both Ivyworks and Pass the Torch for Women could be summed up as the importance of strong, quality networks of peers and mentors.
“My father always taught me that you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with,” said name title. “So I think it’s imperative that you surround yourself with really great people… it’s really great when you are able to be that light for someone else.”