Laurie Burns McRobbie

Remarks at the 2014 Hazelett Forum on Women in Leadership

Thank you, Phil. On behalf of Indiana University, it is an honor to welcome all of you to this annual event that celebrates Susie Hazelett, a woman who exemplified courage and vision, and who inspired men and women alike to become leaders who can make a difference.  I want to especially welcome Susie’s husband, Bruce, who is with us today.

Now more than ever, we need to understand the dynamics of good leadership, and how we can each exercise our personal influence.

The Tobias Center works to increase our understanding of effective leadership across all disciplines, and through the Hazelett Forum, we are inspired by female transformative leaders who influence our thoughts and behaviors for the better.

Going into its 10th year, the Hazelett Forum celebrates female leaders across the spectrum. From an opera singer to a university president, an Olympic gold medalist to successful business women and philanthropists, the Hazelett Forum reinforces women’s achievement on all levels. And today we have entrepreneur and innovator Angie Hicks to tell her story about effective and innovative leadership.

As someone who spent nearly 25 years as a technologist in higher education, I am particularly delighted to hear from Angie.  Angie’s List has been a leader in the innovative uses of technology since its founding, and continues to lead in ensuring that we keep tech-skilled workers here in Indiana. And it’s particularly wonderful to have a female CEO leading this work, given the gender disparities in the tech sector.

I just came from a forum on Women in Science at IUPUI. Several students, faculty, and professionals participated in a lively event that focused on the importance of women’s engagement in science, technology, informatics, and mathematics. There were several wonderful student presentations, and three female experts gave advice to attracting – and keeping – women students in STEM.

IU is committed to increasing opportunities for women to lead in STEM fields. Across all eight campuses, the university is making remarkable progress in creating future female leaders in technology, math, science, engineering and informatics.

I am proud to be part of a community that is determined to empower women in science to dream big and to aspire to make lasting changes in the world. But whether it’s in STEM, business, the arts, politics, or philanthropy, we must continue to invest in opportunities for women’s professional growth so that we find gender balance in leadership roles across all sectors.

This is important not only for reasons of equity, but for success for a competitive economy.

I’m sure I am speaking for all of you in saying that leadership diversity is essential for excellence. Multiple studies show that diverse work teams produce more creative and innovative solutions, and companies with diversity in their leadership ranks have as much as a 34% higher return on investment.  We need a diverse workforce to produce the products and services that respond to a varied, and global, consumer base.

Through forums like this, we are reminded that we—as female leaders—must keep working to reduce the barriers that keep women and minorities from seeing themselves as business leaders, technologists, and scientists. Openness to new ideas, new challenges, and risk-taking are crucial traits for any leader—and it’s especially important for women to embrace opportunities and to dream big.

I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the Hazelett Forum over the past few years. Each time, I have left feeling inspired and motivated to creative positive change. It’s my hope that after today’s session with Angie, we all leave with a sense of purpose and be the ones to break new ground and light the path for others to follow.

Thank you.