Association for Women in Science (AWIS) Annual Summit— Event Wrap Up

innovation and inclusion in tech conferenceAssociation for Women in Science (AWIS) Annual Summit Convenes 200 STEM, Gender Equity and Diversity Leaders

On April 25, nearly 200 gender equity, workforce, and STEM leaders across the country attended the Fourth Annual AWIS Summit: Innovation and Inclusion: Women at the Forefront in San Francisco. Featured speakers shared solutions and best practices to drive meaningful systemic change to expand funding opportunities for STEM entrepreneurs. Fireside chats and panel discussions addressed the ongoing workforce diversity, gender and inclusion gaps. Click here for Summit highlights and photos.

At this year’s event, AWIS announced its inaugural awards to industry champions who are making significant contributions to increasing workplace diversity, promoting women in leadership positions and advocating for more inclusive practices in STEM.

“Promoting greater workplace diversity—including diversity of thought—is the smart thing to do for business, corporate culture, academia and overall progress in STEM,” said Bahija Jallal, PhD, AWIS National Governing Board President, and President of MedImmune and Executive Vice President of AstraZeneca. “At AWIS, we are thrilled to celebrate these bold leaders who are committed to advocating for gender equity, promoting diversity and creating opportunities for the advancement of individuals at all levels of STEM.”

The 2018 AWIS award recipients include Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who received the Pinnacle Award. The Leadership Award was presented to Melinda Richter, Global Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS, Rachel Haurwitz, Co-founder of Caribou Biosciences, received the Next Generation Award, and Salesforce was the recipient of the Game Changer Award.

Sue Desmond-Hellman said, “I am honored to receive the Pinnacle Award from AWIS, an extraordinary organization I admire greatly for its work and advocacy for women in STEM,” said Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “AWIS is a catalyst for change and committed to inspiring and supporting innovation to help the next generation of women scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians fulfill their potential.”

Also, at the Summit AWIS released a new report that shows how the STEM industry continues to lack diversity and funding for women. The groundbreaking report, Revolutionizing the STEM Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. The report outlines systemic entrepreneurship barriers to opportunity and access for women in STEM.  “Working with entrepreneurs and investors across the country, AWIS is able to understand why conventional approaches are failing and identify tangible ways to address these issues effectively. Every investor, business leader, accelerator director, and woman in STEM should read this report,” said Janet Bandows Koster, AWIS Executive Director and CEO. Actionable recommendations for businesses, investors, and entrepreneurship support programs to expand funding opportunities, increase diversity and cultivate gender equity in STEM are also included in the report.

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is a global network with 80 grassroots chapters and affiliates connecting more than 100,000 professionals in STEM with members, allies and supporters worldwide. For more information visit and follow us @awisnational.