By Dr. Marsha Firestone
While historically women entrepreneurs have been under represented in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – they are making inroads in these high-growth industry sectors essential to America’s economic growth and global competitiveness. Popular culture has promoted stereotypes when it comes to industries perceived as “male” vs. “female.” However members in the Women Presidents’ Organization increasingly represent a broad cross section of businesses.
Here are some examples of women who are providing positive role models for other business owners looking to make strides in science and technology fields.
- Pamela Kan, President, Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation
A certified and woman-owned family of companies, Bishop-Wisecarver Group (BWG), located in Pittsburgh, California, works with manufacturers to engineer, manufacture, and build linear and rotary motion solutions, custom complex assemblies, and optimal embedded intelligence systems. Pamela is passionate about helping to create a more diverse, inclusive pipeline of employees for her industry. Bishop-Wisecarver helps manufacturers and Automation Solution Providers engineer linear and rotary motion products by thoroughly understanding their design requirements and ensuring unique solutions that can ship within 2 to 3 weeks. This results in product differentiation, longer product life, 50% faster time to market, and up to 100% lower install and maintenance costs.
- Carolyn Cross, Chairman & CEO, Ondine Biomedical Inc.
Carolyn Cross is Founder of Ondine Biomedical Inc., a Vancouver-based medical device company. It develops non-antibiotic infection control therapies for a number of applications. Called photo disinfection, the technique uses laser light, not drugs, to kill pathogens. Given the growing concerns about drug-resistant bacteria, the technology could be an important new tool in fighting drug-resistant micro-organisms. In her efforts to help other women in business, Cross brings a sense of urgency that comes from a keen awareness of the shortness of life – something that was violently underscored in 2011 when she was in a small plane crash in Richmond that claimed the life of the pilot and co-pilot.
- Phyllis Newhouse, President and CEO, Xtreme Solutions
Extreme Solutions in Atlanta, Georgia, founded by Phyllis Newhouse, combines best practices in information technology, along with key partnerships with many of the top security-solutions manufacturers, to provide federal agencies and major corporations with superior information technology and cybersecurity solutions. After spending twenty-two years in the military, Phyllis Newhouse knew the federal government was outsourcing the majority of its IT services. Before she left military service in 1999, she began to formulate a way to leverage the leadership acumen and skill set she had gained to build an IT company with the “right stuff” to pitch to the Department of Defense. The company was up and running by 2002. As an ethical hacking firm, Xtreme Solutions helps identify potential threats to a computer or network by searching the system for weak points that could be exploited.
- Jennifer Jeansonne, CEO of Eagle Consulting, LLC
An international Upstream Oil & Gas Consulting Firm in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, Eagle Consulting LLC provides field supervision and in-house engineering services for drilling operations, in addition to health, safety and environmental representatives. The company matches oil and gas companies, large and small, with experienced project management and engineering consultants along the Gulf Coast. Jennifer’s father insisted she work at his oil and gas staffing firm in Belle Chasse, then mentored her for years before handing over the keys to the company. Eagle Consulting currently operates in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the shale plays in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Texas and New Mexico, as well as overseas.
The growing power of women’s businesses and its profound impact on the economy has not received the attention it deserves. So we decided to do something about it. In 2007 WPO launched the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies™ to focus much needed attention on the vital role that women-owned/led companies have in boosting the economy and enhancing overall job growth. Each year we receive hundreds of applicants vying for the distinction of being named one of the “50 Fastest.”
This year’s list represents our most diverse ranking ever, with an immense geographic reach covering 20 states, as well as industries ranging from energy efficiency to cybersecurity and engineering. In April we launched a book, The Women Presidents’ Organization 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies™ Guide to Growth, sponsored by American Express. The book aims to help female business owners grow their enterprises through tried-and-true methods and serves as a tool to arm women-owned businesses with actionable ways to succeed.
Through compelling stories from 15 different experienced winners of the Fifty Fastest Women-Owned/Led Companies, this guide provides insight into the strategies that fueled their growth. The book highlights tips and best practices on topics including branding, financing, human resources, innovation and sales.
We are grateful for the support of American Express to be able to share these inspirational stories, and proud to announce the new handbook is now on the American Express website. Click here to download.
We need more visibility for the work that many accomplished and successful women are doing to reinforce the notion that technology should be gender blind. Changing the stereotypes that in the past have inhibited women from tapping into their true potential will help encourage participation in STEM fields in the future.