The Think Tank for Women in Business & Technology

Raising Women’s Socioeconomic Status Through the Application of Technology

The Think Tank for Women in Business & Technology is founded by Tech Philosopher, Somi Arian, and powered by, soon-to-launch, FemPeak platform. ‘The movement’ began in July 2020 when Somi made the initial announcement on LinkedIn. (See the embedded post). The response and support have been incredible. Our mission is to raise women’s socioeconomic status and to see women in the top tier of business, technology, science, and philosophy.

The Premise

Currently, there are ten giant tech corporations, five in the US and five in China, that are determining the future of humanity as we merge with technology in the 21st Century. Not a single one of these companies are founded and run by women. This is merely another link in a historical narrative that we must change since it is absolutely imperative to have a female perspective in the room where the future of humanity is decided. We’re building a super-platform to be a stepping stone for women to succeed and realise their full potential. 

We want to see an equal number of women at the table and in the driver seat, in this century, as we build new industries and new economic models, and our political systems and educational institutions undergo profound changes driven by artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, blockchain, and everything in between. 

Our 4th Conference (24-March-2021)

The Think Tank for Women in Business & Technology is a quarterly conference series and podcast interviews with industry leaders, investors, innovators, academics, and thinkers from across the world. Together we brainstorm how to help more women succeed as entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers and innovators. The conferences are completely free to attend and anyone with a strong background, experience, and thought-provoking perspective can submit a proposal to join the panel. Our team will then go through the submissions and handpick the strongest voices to curate each conference. 

In these discussions, we look at ten factors that impact women’s socioeconomic progress. These factors are biological, cultural, educational, economic, political, legal, career, technological, psychological, and the data gap. We also loosely group these into nature, nurture, and the self. We are now open to proposal submissions in the following categories for our next conference on Wednesday 24th of March 2021. Please make sure that your expertise/submission matches the question posed in each category:

Career – Future of work: where do women stand? The World Economic Forum reported a 74 % gender gap in technical professions, with an even bigger gap in emerging areas such as Artificial Intelligence. How can we tackle this and get the message across to our youth who are distracted from the reality in an age of constant entertainment? 

Cultural – Are traditional gender roles changing and what does this mean for the future generation? Perhaps never before in history have the traditional gender roles come under so much scrutiny as they have in the 21th century. Are we prepared for the void that we will experience as a consequence of these changes? 

Educational – Are we teaching math and science to girls and women the wrong way? Research has shown that when women solve math problems they use their brain differently. We often use the same approach to teach male and female pupils, it’s worth exploring how this may be causing a disparity between the sexes since an early age.

Economic – How has the gig economy impacted women’s earning and the gender wage gap? We are looking for economists and researchers who can shed light on the impact of the digital economy, in general, and the gig economy, in particular, on women. Together we will explore the challenges and opportunities in this area.

Political: Is the world’s most advanced nation least ready for a female presidency? According to NPR, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s candidacies aggravated women’s perceptions of gender bias in the electoral arena. (The authors write, women saw how Clinton and Palin were treated in the 2008 election and decided not to run.) 

Kamela Harris

Legal: According to UNESCO, while some laws openly discriminate towards women, others cause gender inequalities in more indirect ways and are therefore more difficult to identify and reform. We would like to hear from legal experts who can discuss this, especially if there is a technology angle in overcoming the shortcomings in the legal system. 

Psychological: In a survey, the UK Institute of Leadership and Management asked British managers how confident they felt in their work. Half the female respondents reported self-doubt about their job performance and careers, compared with fewer than a third of male respondents. How do we change this narrative? 

Biological – Mental & Physical Health Technology: A Female Perspective. We are looking for entrepreneurs and scholars with thought-provoking research on women’s mental and/or physical health who would like to share their breakthrough ideas with our audience. 

Technological: Algorithms of Sex, Beauty, and Ageing: How Technology Shapes the Female Image & Experience. From pornography to social media influencers and video games we are now able to develop increasingly lifelike characters albeit with enhanced attributes that are hard to achieve for most humans.  We are open to hearing from augmented and virtual reality experts who can discuss the pros and cons of these technologies and how they may enhance or challenge the human experience.

Data gap: Is gender-neutral the same as equal? As stated eloquently by MIT scholar Lotte Bailyn, “equality is still not the same as equity, and this definition ignores important aspects of equity. Equating equity with equality assumes the workplace is completely separate from the rest of life and thus ignores the fact that people have lives outside of their work. By being gender-neutral, this first definition ignores the different life experiences of men and women and makes the current ‘male’ model of the ideal academic normative. It assumes that women can follow this model as easily as men, and, if they do, will be seen as successful and as central as their male colleagues. Neither of these assumptions is true.” (Bailyn, 2003, pp. 139)” 

Panel - Part 1

Somi Arian

Somi Arian is a tech philosopher, multi-award-winning filmmaker, author, entrepreneur, and LinkedIn-Top-Voice in the UK. Somi is researching women’s socioeconomic position in society and why, historically, women have been held back in science, technology, and the business landscape and how to change this narrative. This is why she started this Think Tank.

Professor Sara Seager

Sara Seager is an astrophysicist and a Professor of Physics, Planetary Science, and Astronautical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her innovative research, which earned her a MacArthur “genius” grant, has introduced many foundational ideas to the field of exoplanets, planets orbiting stars other than the sun.

She is now at the forefront of the search for the first Earth-like exoplanets and signs of life on them.
Professor Seager has held leadership positions in a variety of space-based projects, including on the MIT-led NASA mission TESS. She has received many accolades for her work including membership in the US National Academy of Sciences, Officer of the Order of Canada, and has Asteroid 9729 Seager named in her honor. Her work and life are captured
in her memoir titled, “The Smallest Lights in the Universe”.

Professor Diana Walsh Pasulka

Diana Walsh Pasulka is a professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, in Wilmington. Her work addresses the intersection of technological innovation with exceptional creativity.
Her latest book, American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology (Oxford University Press, 2019) was a breakout success that crossed from an academic to a mainstream audience and became a best seller in several genres.
Her work is popular with people interested in how paradigms shift and how creativity works within processes of positive innovation.

Manuela Veloso

Manuela M. Veloso is the Head of J.P. Morgan Chase AI Research & Herbert A. Simon University Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University (on leave), where she has pursued research on AI for many years, being an international expert in the areas of planning, learning, multiagent systems, and autonomous mobile robots. She served as president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) , and the co-founder and Past President of RoboCup. She is a fellow of AAAI, AAAS, ACM, and IEEE. Veloso has graduated many PhD students, who are leaders in academia and technology companies. She has co-authored more than 400 journal and conference publications (www.cs.cmu.edu/~mmv)

Lisa Forte

Lisa Forte is a speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, vlogger and has starred in several documentary films. Lisa’s journey into cybersecurity was unique. She previously worked in counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, UK counter-terrorism policing, and then for one of the UK Police Cyber Crime Units.

Lisa is an expert in many aspects of cybersecurity. Lisa is the co-founder of Red Goat Cyber Security who specializes in training and helping crisis management teams rehearse and test their plans for a cyber-attack. Lisa passionately supports the “tech for good” philosophy and in early 2020 she co-founded a “cyber for good” movement called Cyber Volunteers 19. The group provides pro bono help and advice to hospitals around Europe during the pandemic and has amassed almost 3000 volunteers.

Lisa’s vlog, Rebooting, has attracted big names in cybersecurity and focuses on debating hot and controversial issues in security.

Rupal Yogendra Patel

From war zones to boardrooms, New York-born and London-based Rupal Patel have often been the only woman in ultra-high-octane, Alpha-male environments. After a thrilling career at the CIA, she started her first six-figure business from scratch almost 10 years ago. Combining the business savvy gained along the way with her CIA training, she now helps the next generation of women leaders and change-makers think bigger, leads better, and be bolder. Leveraging her Ivy-League education, MBA, and CIA training, Rupal combines industry-leading theory with tactical experience. Her work on identity-driven leadership helps individuals leverage their unique strengths, uncover blind spots, and become better, more effective, and more fulfilled in the process.

Her powerful perspectives on resilience, adaptability, mindset, and growth are invaluable for anyone who wants off-the-beaten-path insights on fulfilling their potential.
Rupal has been called a “power woman” by Harper’s Bazaar, is an Entrepreneur in Residence at London Business School, and is currently writing a business book like no other.

Dr. Warren Farrell

Dr. Warren Farrell has been chosen by the Financial Times as one of the world’s top 100 thought leaders. His books are published in over 50 countries, and in 19 languages. They include The New York Times best-seller, Why Men Are the Way They Are, plus the international best-seller, The Myth of Male Power. His most recent is The Boy Crisis (2018, co-authored with John Gray). The Boy Crisis was chosen as a finalist for the Foreword Indies award (the independent publishers’ award).

 Dr. Farrell has been a pioneer in both the women’s movement (elected three times to the Board of N.O.W. in NYC) and the men’s movement (called by GQ Magazine “The Martin Luther King of the men’s movement”). He conducts couples’ communication workshops nationwide. He has appeared on over 1000 TV shows and been interviewed by Oprah, Barbara Walters, Peter Jennings, Katie Couric, Larry King, Tucker Carlson, Regis Philbin and Charlie Rose. He has frequently written for and been featured in The New York Times and publications worldwide. Dr. Farrell has two daughters, lives with his wife in Mill Valley, California, and virtually at www.warrenfarrell.com

Panel - Part 2

Robert Baker

Rob Baker left Mercer, the global HR consulting firm, in January 2020, after a distinguished 42-year career. His last role was as Leader of Diversity & Inclusion Consulting for the International Region. Rob was a Board member of PWN Global, the leading women’s network, for seven years: and is now a Trustee of One Loud Voice for Women. He has now set up his own firm: Potentia Talent Consulting and is a Board Director of Spktral: leading gender pay gap analysts and Talupp, the AI-driven experiential talent development platform. Rob is a Companion at the CMI.

Kristen O'Grady

Kristen O’Grady is a finance executive and entrepreneur, currently COO and Head of Product for Seeds.  She is passionate about making money more meaningful – by showing others how they can grow their wealth as well as have a positive impact on the world.  Seeds is a fintech platform that empowers financial advisors to personalize client conversations in order to align their personal ESG values and wealth.

The time is now where the intersection of technology and social consciousness is propelling us to make choices about the impact we are having with our investments.

Kristen spent nearly 15 years at BlackRock and JPMorgan designing & launching investment products for wealth advisory and private bank clients.  She believes in empowering women through economic opportunity by serving as a non-profit board member of MicroDreams, a microfinance foundation.  Kristen has a 5-year-old daughter who already calls herself an engineer and scientist.

Sue Nelson

Sue Nelson is an award-winning businesswoman, author, broadcaster and speaker and a renowned expert on using innovation to accelerate to hyper profitability.

She was recently named as one of the Top 20 Global Food & Agri Influencers and Thought Leaders.

She was the founder and sole owner of the multiple award-winning Breakthrough Group, which grew from a two-person operation in her conservatory in 2015 to a highly profitable multi-million-pound business. It was sold to EY (Ernst and Young) in 2020. She was awarded the London and South East Director of the Year for innovation in 2019 by the Institute of Directors.
Sue has appeared as a guest on every national television and radio news programme in the UK from CNN, Sky News, Radio 5 Live and Radio 4’s Today Programme to The Culture Show, BBC Breakfast, The Politics Show and The Food Programme.

Christina Colmer McHugh

Based in the UK, Moodbeam has given a heartbeat to something that started as an idea in the head of an anxious working mum who simply wanted to know how her child was feeling when she wasn’t with her.

Fast forward 5 years and now Christina co-leads an exciting health tech brand after inventing the user-led device that logs and tracks moods, creating real-time, accurate visualized data for at-a-glance emotional awareness. It pivoted in 2020 to include support to organizations who wanted to gauge the morale, wellbeing, and productivity of their teams, in real-time. 

In 2021, Moodbeam is now the measure of happiness, allowing people and teams to score their working day on their terms because if your teams are happy, your business will thrive.

Dr. Ilaria Cinelli

Ilaria Cinelli Eng. Ph.D. FAsMA is a senior engineer with records of biomedical engineering and space exploration accomplishments.
Ilaria has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pisa (Italy), and a Ph.D. in Neural Engineering from the National University of Ireland Galway (Republic of Ireland). She is also a graduate of the Space Studies Program run by the International Space University at TU Delft (The Netherlands).

Ilaria is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association, President of the Aerospace Human Factors Association, and a Member-at-Large of the Aerospace Medical Council. She is also a Co-Leader of the Space Exploration Group of the Space Generation Advisory Council and an invited member of The Mars Society Steering Committee. In the end, she is a Mentor and Role Model of the Space4Women network of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Vanessa Maddox

Vanessa began her career in IT as a staff assistant and trainer for the U.S. House of Representatives. She went on to work for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 organizations, federal government agencies, federal contractors, and the U.S. Congress.

In August 2009, Vanessa and her cousin Naomi Williams, co-founded TheGirlfriendGroup (TGG). TGG was a global business/social community for women.
TGG’s mission is women helping women in all aspects of life. TGG began as a tribute to her late sister Valerie.
That effort lead to the founding of her first startup, V.R. Maddox Consulting LLC in 2010. In 2017, Vanessa was elected (in a special election) as the first Black woman in the history of Leesburg,
VA to sit on the Leesburg Town Council. She’s currently writing her first book/memoir entitled, The Politics of Nice: How a Catholic School Girl Navigated the Halls of Power.