This blog was posted on Inside INdiana Business’s website here.

As a woman who has built a career in a STEM field, technology, I have come to realize that collaboration is an essential ingredient for organizational growth and survival. As my year serving as president for Women & Hi Tech comes to an end, one of the most impactful takeaways for me has been how a shared vision and strategic partnerships can help change the landscape for women studying science, technology, engineering or math in Indiana.

W&HT was formed in 1999 and the need is still very obvious and looking specifically at the area of technology: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 there will be an estimated 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and not enough applicants who can fill them. With an increasing demand for technical talent across all industries in our state, it is imperative that the training and mentorship of females in STEM be at a level on par with that of their male peers. It will take boldness, curiosity, and diligence to help women pursue studies and a career in STEM and this support cannot be achieved by one sole entity. When we pledge to work together, the outcomes are stronger for everyone.

Below are a few key ways that focused collaboration is helping to change the landscape for women in tech across the state:

  • A formal partnership was forged between Women & Hi Tech, Indy Women in Tech and Pass the Torch for Women, drawing on contributions from each organization to support women making career transitions into tech.
  • The fifth annual Passport to Hi-Tech at Conner Prairie allowed girls ages 7 to 12 to learn about careers in STEM. Conner Prairie and Women & Hi Tech hosted the event with financial support from Roche Diagnostics.
  • The inaugural Ignite Your Superpower! event with Pippa Mann gave 600 IPS and Warren Township middle-school girls the opportunity to discover more about STEM through participating in hands-on experiences, interactions with female role-models and fun-filled learning on a college campus.
  • Executive Women’s Forums focused on providing professional development topics related to supporting women in staying in and succeeding in their STEM field.
  • Recognizing the need for both men and women to be in these crucial conversations and to encourage Male Allies the creation of the Operation All (Male Allies) Committee is helping to engage men and women alike to support the growth of women in STEM fields.

These achievements were not accomplished alone. From the corporate, government and collegiate sectors to nonprofit space, we have multiple levels of support for the growth of women in STEM careers in Indiana. Governor Holcomb, the City of Indianapolis, and organizations like Indy Women in Tech, Ladies in SaaS, Pass the Torch for Women, and more are all putting in the effort to support this mission to ensure Indiana in ready to meet the talent needs of our state. The end goal is not only to provide academic and professional exposure for young women to pursue a career in STEM, but to plant the seed for everyone employed or technically trained in a STEM field to take an active interest to engage and consider serving as a mentor.

By working together as a unifying force among all stakeholders in the community, we can help create a level playing field through providing supportive services, facilitating career changes, and providing mentoring resources. The future for women in STEM is on the horizon; the time is now and the opportunity is here. If we don’t take advantage and continue to build crucial collaborations, it will evaporate. The new 2018/19 W&HT Board are ready willing and able to support this change.

Audrey Taylor is the founder and CEO of netlogx and past president of Women & Hi Tech.