Liftoff PGH and Pittsburgh Tech Council Co-Host Women+ Innovation Series

Liftoff PGH is building a movement of innovators, and our strength derives from the diversity of voices. To showcase and elevate women+ in the innovation spaces of health care and entrepreneurship, Liftoff PGH created Generation Fempreneur, a week-long summit featuring 8 leading women breaking down barriers. From August 24 to 28, we were proud to partner with the Pittsburgh Tech Council's Business as Usual program, hosted by CEO Audrey Russo, to bring these conversations to the region's business, technology, and community leaders.

More than 340 people tuned in all week to hear from experts in inclusive leadership, in organizational design, in women's health, and in investment and entrepreneurship. Dr. Sonya Borrero, Dr. Tamar Krishnamurti, and Dr. Mehret Birru-Talabi discussed the complications of balancing health equity with the milestones of commercializing their applications supporting reproductive autonomy. Dr. Audrey Murrell and Ayana Ledford broke down the obstacles to women and specifically women of color in leadership positions. Dr. Courtney Williamson discussed the ways she overcame challenges on her way to founding the medical device company AbiliLife. And Erica Friedman and Kim Cauley Eckel shared the importance of social innovation to tackle large scale systemic issues.

So where are the women+ in innovation? Actually, Dr. Ledford does not like that question. "Women are creating and designing in front of our very eyes. But we are simply not elevating their impact and creating promotional tracks that unearth their discoveries." Adds Murrell, "This is a not a question of capability, but rather of capital. Racism, unconscious bias, and investment anxiety lead to disparities in investment, which means we do not see representation of diverse leaders even when research tells us that women-run businesses are as successful as their male counterparts."

There is a long way to go until women+, and particularly women of color, can use the same networks of influence to bring their ideas to light. But as comments poured in, what materializes with absolute clarity is the movement fighting to ensure a new reality. As Dr. Murrell articulated, "We cannot separate issues of ethics and social responsibility with diversity and inclusion." So until we honor the vision and experience of women+, of our own generation fempreneur, Pittsburgh's own potential remains unfulfilled.

Watch the series on YouTube through the Pittsburgh Tech Council's channel here.

Register here for our next upcoming speaker event, Business Resiliency of Health Care in the "New Normal," in partnership with PNC on September 10 from 12-1pm.

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