Innovation Women, MassTLC partner to raise the profile of women tech leaders

Former State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien made a pitch for her company during the Boston Women's Venture Summit in South Boston this spring.
Former State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien made a pitch for her company during the Boston Women's Venture Summit in South Boston this spring.

The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council is collaborating with a local group to help women leaders in the tech industry gain visibility in their fields.

The trade group said Wednesday that it will join with several tech companies and Innovation Women to raise the profiles of women in technology. Innovation Women, headquarted in Woburn, connects experts and leaders with event managers looking for speakers at conferences and panels.

One of the glaring symptoms of the lack of diversity in tech’s highest ranks is the lineup of keynote speakers and panelists at events and conferences. Speaking engagements can translate to visibility — which leads to funding, customers,  job opportunities, and seats on corporate boards. In Massachusetts, women fill only 10 percent of board seats at tech companies in the state, according to Mass TLC’s State of Technology report published this year.

“[Women] need more opportunities to be seen as a thought leader, as an expert, to be able to tell their story,” said Bobbie Carlton, one of the founders of Innovation Women.

Innovation Women, which launched in May, hopes to increase those opportunities.  Women leaders who want to participate in more public-facing activities can set up an account with the group, and list their areas of expertise and speaking fees. The group charges $100 for such a basic profile, which event organizers can view.

As part of the partnership, Mass TLC will bear the cost of creating a profile on Innovation Women for employees of Massachusetts’ biggest tech firms. Participants include: Akamai, Acquia, Dyn, Enernoc, Fidelity, iRobot, Hubspot , Mathworks, Microsoft, Partners Health, and Raytheon.

Innovation Women said its website has about 700 accounts. Big-name tech leaders and investors have recognized the gender gap in the field and are working to fix it. Earlier this year, Facebook chief operating office Sheryl Sandberg and Marc Andreessen set up a leadership bootcamp for a select group of tech leaders from minority groups.

The inaugural “Rev Boston” bootcamp held this weekend, led by venture firm Accomplice and Startup Institute CEO Diane Hessan, similarly sought to offer 20 invited women tech leaders a chance to participate in leadership training workshops and networking sessions.

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at nidhi.subbaraman@globe.com.
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