Athena

Powering The Leadership Journey For Woman In STEM

Something quite special is happening in San Diego as community leaders and market forces converge to reimagine the region as one of America’s most dynamic innovation centers.

The Brookings Institute just short-listed San Diego as a “Top 5 Superstar City” for its national standing in high-tech job growth.

In parallel, San Diego is welcoming tech titans like Amazon, Apple, Teradata and Tesla to the neighborhood as they establish proximity to the region’s diverse STEM workforce.

Yet one puzzling fact persists, even as UC San Diego graduates more women in STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) than any other university in the nation, women are significantly underrepresented in STEM occupations, especially in leadership. According to Athena’s 2018 STEM Workforce Equity Index, women account for only 23% of San Diego’s STEM workforce. Nationally, women are not faring much better, accounting for 25% of the STEM workforce.

But one San Diego-based advocacy group is determined to upend this trend. Founded in 1998 by tech entrepreneur Barbara Bry, Athena is a women’s advocacy organization that fast tracks women in STEM through leadership development and peer mentoring. By transforming these scientists and technologists into corporate leaders, its mission is to advance one million women leading in STEM by 2030.

Athena’s 2019 Board of Directors

Who Cares What “Simon Says” Let’s Take Stock in What “Solomon Says”

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs chief, David Solomon just announced the firm’s new 2020 policy that companies with “…All Bros won’t get IPOs.” Last month, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Solomon declared his firm will not take companies public without at least one “diverse” board director, with an emphasis on women. Solomon cited the significant outperformance of his portfolio companies with women on their boards as the primary motivation.

As the battle for investment and talent intensifies, it’s apparent that diversity is becoming the most consequential element of modern business. This is the vision that Athena has been championing for more than two decades in recognition that markets and companies where women are an undervalued asset, are themselves subject to undermining their own asset value.

Athena CEO | Holly Smithson

Enabling Business to Achieve Gender Equality

Goldman Sachs is at the leading edge of a shift that is happening in the modern workforce, driven by 1) a generational movement for corporate leaders to become active citizens in creating a sustainable world and 2) data that demonstrates increased profits and innovation depend upon a diverse workforce. However, most companies lack a clear plan to re-engineer decades-old cultures and obsolete policies that run counter to a diverse and inclusive business.

That is why Athena is collaborating with the United Nations Global Compact and the New York Academy of Sciences to drive business awareness of the fundamental impact of workforce diversity and help companies achieve gender equality by 2030. Through this strategic partnership, Athena is launching an action platform called “Athena Assembly.” This data driven, multi-year initiative consists of 15 global STEM companies and sets out to pilot and publish a scientific-backed “playbook” to assist companies in implementing and capturing the competitive advantages associated with gender equality.

Ultimately, in solving for these business challenges on how to achieve gender equality at scale, San Diego will distinguish itself as a “destination for diversity,” as it sets the gold standard for other innovation centers to plug in and play catch up.

As Athena Assembly tech members – like Teradata and Viasat – help architect this evidence-based framework to operationalize and achieve sustained equality goals, I suspect the race for top talent may be awfully kind to those designing this unprecedented racetrack.

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