Top Women & Leadership Speakers: Addressing Gender Equity in the Workforce
Despite massive progress made in gender equality, women continue to occupy fewer leadership positions than their male counterparts in the workforce. Women accounted for a scarce 15% of board director seats worldwide in 2017, and only 24 women (4.8%) were CEOS of Fortune 500 Companies as of the 2018 Fortune List. Now, more than ever, the world needs strong representation of women leaders. These 10 women leadership speakers are shattering glass ceilings and making waves in industries ranging from neuroscience to politics.
Susan Hockfield: Neuroscientist and author, Susan Hockfield is the first woman to lead at the distinguished research university MIT. She’s a leading voice of the biological revolution known as “convergence,” having penned a seminal work on the topic The Age of Living Machines. With a radical eye and a commanding presence, Hockfield speaks on the impact of emerging technologies—from virus-built batteries to mind-reading bionic limbs—and the power of strong female leadership in STEM.
Margot Lee Shetterly: Few people understand the importance of diversity in STEM quite like Margot Lee Shetterly. Beyond being a researcher and entrepreneur, Shetterly is the author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. In the instant #1 New York Times Bestseller, which was later adapted into the #1 film in America, Shetterly tells the hope-filled story of women pioneers who dared to stand up to injustice for the sake of human progress.
Ritu Bhasin: Ritu Bhasin knows all too well what happens when people from diverse backgrounds disguise their true selves at work: widespread conformity, lack of innovation, and a mass exodus of top talent fleeing stagnant organizations. A fearless female leader, Bhasin champions the importance of authenticity —regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation—to create a dynamic, inclusive, and productive workplace.
Ellen Ochoa: Women in STEM need look no further for inspiration than Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman to go to space, and the second ever female director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Ochoa has enjoyed a meteoric rise to to the top and a boundary-pushing, historic career. Today, she shares her insights on the importance of minorities in STEM, and women in leadership positions, to rapt audiences all over the world.
MJ Hegar: Major MJ Hegar is no stranger to victory. As an Air Force pilot, she earned both a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor (an honor shares with only one other woman in history: Amelia Earhart). Following her service, Hegar fought to repeal an outdated policy that was unconstitutional towards female military members, and won. The epitome of a brave leader, Hegar speaks with honesty and candor on a timeless topic: how to lead your team to victory, no matter what the obstacle.
Maureen Chiquet: What happens when we embrace leadership values typically associated with women? For Maureen Chiquet, it’s a lot of success. The former CEO of Chanel helped grow the international haute-couture business three-fold during her nearly 10-year tenure. Now, Chiquet speaks about the value and benefit of leading with traditionally “feminine” values -- compassion, introspection, and communication.
Kimberley Motley: “Outspoken, American, and a Woman” screams the headline of a New York Times profile on Kimberley Motley, Afghanistan’s only foreign litigator. Yet Motley doesn’t let her outsider status interfere with her human rights work. With a courage, conviction, and commitment to justice, Motley navigates an always uncertain, often hostile legal system to win freedom for those wrongfully punished. A stand-alone woman in her field, Motley is the subject of a Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary Motley’s Law, which underpins her belief that we can all be contributors to a global rights economy.
Minette Norman: Minette Norman is not a man, nor she is an engineer. She is, however, in a male dominated industry, working as the VP of Engineering for software giant Autodesk. Despite her Liberal Arts degree, Norman has achieved tremendous success at her job, influencing more than 3,500 software professionals by using a method she calls “radical collaboration.” Her leadership keynotes describe how the diversity can inspire innovation, and how she’s created a culture of meaningful connection and radical empath.
Heather Payne: “White dudes in their twenties” are an overrepresented demographic in the world of programming, leading Heather Payne to ask the question: “If software is created only by a small portion of the population, how is it going to be reflective of society’s needs?” As an answer to the problem, Payne started Ladies Learning Code, a non-profit organization that runs coding workshops for women and girls. She is a revolutionary woman leader who can speak to the importance of updating our approach to technology, education, and entrepreneurship.
Sue Gardner: A free flow of information is essential to the integrity of our democracy, believes Sue Gardner. The former Executive Director at Wikimedia, Gardner now runs non-profit news organization The Markup to help “illuminate how powerful institutions are using technology in ways that impact people and society.” Gardner’s talks focus not only on the future of the internet, but the future of leadership, advocating for increased flexibility, collaboration, and transparency.