How Indiana is Supporting Women in Technology
Indiana has become a veritable hub of innovation and technology over the last several years. This is surprising to some who have seen the state as part of “fly-over” country, or others who know it as an agricultural powerhouse. But since the rise of companies like Angie’s List and success of entrepreneurs like Jack Dorsey of ExactTarget, Indiana has been making headlines not only for the triumphs of these companies, but for being a place that supports the innovation economy and provides quality of life for those who work in these industries. It’s not only limited to AgTech and Biotechnology, or marketing technology and consumer apps. I have seen firsthand as a participant through various programs, such as The Indy Startup Challenge and the Purdue Foundry’s Ag-Celerator, that our homegrown talent has the capacity and drive to create opportunities and new businesses across a wide variety of technologies and industries.
These are great successes on their own, but what is even more impressive is the support for women in tech that I have seen over the last few years that I have been more directly involved in these activities. And this is not exclusive to women who have a background, degree or other experience in tech or engineering fields. I can attest that even I, a woman with a strong background in communications, have been accepted into the tech sphere. I think that in Indiana people see the curiosity, passion and determination of people from all walks of life and appreciate those who want to make a difference and an impact in their communities.
I have been a beneficiary of such a welcoming attitude in organizations such as WomenIN, where I serve on the advisory committee. Purdue University and its entrepreneurial and commercialization hub, the Purdue Foundry, have done an excellent job of shaking up what was once a space dominated by enterprising academics and mostly men and have welcomed women and students, as well as local community members interested in entrepreneurial topics to participate in weekly and monthly activities, workshops and networking events throughout the course of the year. It has been a privilege to work with the women of the Foundry staff, and the local community connections at the MatchBOX Coworking Studio, who have worked tirelessly over the course of the last year to create programming and connect women who are taking what was once just an idea they were tossing around into full fledged plans and startup companies. I look forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for this group!
Another organization that I have benefited immensely from is The Startup Ladies, founded by Kristen Cooper of Indianapolis (also an IBJ Woman of Influence for 2016). Talk about being accepted into a group with arms wide open. Kristen is a cheerleader and super-connector who is providing another excellent outlet and set of programming for women across the state of Indiana. The Startup Study Halls were one of my first forays into the Indianapolis startup and tech scene and ever since then I have been continually encouraged and supported in my personal endeavors in that city and its entrepreneurial community.
Though I am speaking for myself and my own experiences, I hope that others are finding similar groups or take the time to participate in one of the many events that are held across the state of Indiana (or other similar organizations where you live). It has been an incredible chance to learn and meet wonderful new people and I can’t wait to share more stories of success from these organizations, the women who run them and the participants who benefit from the fantastic support network that exists here in our great state!