IWiT Championship Shines Spotlight on Women & Tech

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(Inside INdiana Business Photo/Mary-Rachel Redman) (Inside INdiana Business Photo/Mary-Rachel Redman)

A member of the Indy Women in Tech Foundation Board of Directors says an important goal of the nonprofit with the LPGA tournament at the Brickyard Crossing golf course is to shine a light on opportunities for women and girls in STEM. The Indy Women in Tech Championship is set to begin Wednesday with the Official Pro-Am, however the week-long festivities also include a number of tech-related events, such as Tuesday's IWiT Summit which put the spotlight on women in the tech community.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Melissa Watson said the foundation looks to further its mission with the event.

"We are providing opportunities to women trying to transition into tech careers, STEM careers, either for the first time or maybe they're leaving a different career and we want to remove all barriers that they're facing," said Watson. "I hope people walk away knowing that they can be the change. You can view women and young girls with that lens of potential and then how we need to get there, so I hope that everyone walks away knowing that they have an opportunity to be that change. They can help move the needle; they can help change the landscape of tech in our community and change lives."

IWiT Chair Karen Maginn adds the efforts of the foundation are important because of Indiana's growing reputation as a tech hub. "We want to make sure that more women are at the table, being leaders within our community and having the opportunity to work their way to being at the table and seeing themselves here in Indiana as a tech leader."

One of the key speakers at the IWiT Summit was Erica Joy Baker, principal group engineering manager for Microsoft. She said having an event like the summit with women in tech gathered in one space is very rare. "Getting to see that there are women from all walks of live and all different levels, I think there are a lot of college-age students here, getting to see that, yes, I can be successful in the tech industry in my career is wonderful."

Baker spoke about the importance of having an advocate in the workplace.

"There's so much burden on women, people of color, generally minorities in the workplace to sort of do that heavy lifting to improve the workplace, to speak up," said Baker. "It gets exhausting and draining and how do you do your best work when you're trying to fight these battles all the time? And for someone else to be like, 'I'm going to take that off your plate, off your shoulders, and I'm going to make it so you can actually focus on your job'...Fantastic."

In addition to the IWiT Summit, the foundation is hosting events for kids such as The Eureka! Exchange at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which runs through Friday. The event aims to "introduce students to the wonders of STEM and tech through firsthand interaction," according to the foundation.

You can learn more about the IWiT Championship and all of the events taking place this week by clicking here.

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