Chicago Innovation, the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) and Attract, Retain, Advance (ARA), hosted Celebrating Women in Innovation, which highlighted the ways women continue to break new ground by taking risks and doing things differently.
“This event celebrates women who are at the peak of their careers, and got there by focusing on innovation to change the status quo,” said Tom Kuczmarski, Co-Founder of Chicago Innovation. “Last year, the Chicago Innovation Awards honored ten women-run organizations, the highest number of women-run recipients in our sixteen-year history. We want to build on that momentum in 2017.”
According to the Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking for 2017, over one-third of startup founders in Chicago are women. This is the highest percentage of female founders in the world. Similar trends are also seen within Chicago’s largest businesses. A 2014 census conducted by the Chicago Network found that women held 17.9% of director positions at the 50 largest public companies in the Chicago area. While Chicago is only slightly ahead of the national average of 17.7%, it is strides ahead of cities like Los Angeles, where only 7.7% of directors are female.
“While we are encouraged by the progress Chicago has made to increase gender diversity in the workplace, we still have a long way to go to ensure all Chicago business leaders and owners succeed equally,” said Emilia DiMenco, CEO of the WBDC. “The work of the WBDC and Chicago Innovation’s Women’s Mentoring Co-op, along with our Celebrating Women in Innovation event, are helping us make strides toward increased opportunities for Chicago’s female innovators.”