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Salt Lake may be a small city, but it’s big on women in technology. At yesterday’s Women Tech Awards, more than 400 women engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders gathered to celebrate the best and brightest women in technology-related professions.

keynoteThis event wasn’t so much a display of girl power as it was girl empowerment. From the pre-luncheon Q&A session to the final award presentation, the theme of the event, “Defy Gravity” was clear.

The keynote address was given by Sophia Chew, a 25 year veteran of Intel, and an amazingly accomplished woman. Her goals are powerful in their simplicity: “Do something big” and “Make a difference.” She urged the audience to be themselves, learn to tolerate ambiguity, and seek mentors.

There were so many great moments:
  • Susan Johnson, recipient of the Leadership Excellence award, recounted being the only woman in her engineering program and being asked by one of the male students, “Does your father know you are here.” She responded, “He’s the one who encouraged me to take the class.”
  • Sarah Hiza, recipient of the Technology Innovator award, talked about the unwavering support of her parents as she pursued her Ph.D. in Polymer Science.
  • Courtney Doyle, recipient of the Academic Excellence award, recognized the four other Ph.D. students in her category. They are strong, smart and so proud to represent women in the engineering department at the University of Utah.
erin-and-janeThe Women Technology Council did a fantastic job with this event. It was completely inspiring. Personally, I am so proud of my business partner Erin Bolton who honored as one of the 16 finalists.

This event made me think of other groups that are working hard to showcase women and create a forum for discussion—particularly in an industry like AV that is even more male-dominated than information technology.

I’m seeing real energy around bringing more women into the industry and recognizing the women in it. When we band together in places like the Women in AV LinkedIn group, we can continue the theme from the Women Tech Awards and “Defy Gravity.”

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