Category Archives: Women

Chicago Law Clinic Helps Women Entrepreneurs

The DePaul Business Law Clinic at DePaul University is offering female entrepreneurs legal advice, business acumen, and industry guidance at an affordable price. For $500 per semester, women entrepreneurs across Chicago are getting the help they need to thrive and succeed.

Female law students are paired with the business owners and offer direct consultation and legal aid.

The clinic was founded by Julie D. Lawton and says the program is “mutually beneficial for businesses and students. For our students, this is a wonderful, dynamic and interdisciplinary experience, and for our clients, they are able to obtain this holistic support. Not only legally, but also technically. “

The clinic has offered this service for the past four years. All business types and sizes are encouraged to work with the DePaul law students.

Balancing the Tech Workforce in Chicago

As more and more investors ask companies to share the information reported to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the realities of workforce representation of minorities and women are gaining new attention. For many firms and businesses, including those in Chicago, increasing participation by Black and Latino workers in tech jobs is a top priority.

Diversity in Chicago Tech Jobs

Google, for example, has 1,200 workers in its Chicago offices; African Americans make up 2.2 percent of technical jobs. Latinos make up only 4.8 percent of these jobs in the tech-giants national employment base.

The executives at Chicago firms say they have all seen the benefits of diversity in their staffing schemes. A healthy sharing of opinions, constructive debates, and meaningful exchange of best practices are only some of the positives that come along with expanding the hiring base. Unfortunately, not all Chicagoans are optimistic. Carlton Gates, an African American recruiter for Yum! Brands based in Chicago, and a former employee of Oracle and Google, says the tech-verse has been “talking about diversity for 20 years, and not a single thing has changed.” According to Gates, there is a tribal vibe on engineering teams, where little to no cultural or ethnic crossover happens.

With all this in mind, local companies with open tech vacancies are looking for new resources and pipelines to identify talent. They are also taking measures to modify the interview processes to abate bias and address issues that might be unique to minority populations.

Diversity in Chicago Tech Jobs

Chicago’s Marking of Women’s History Month

Last month America marked Women’s History Month.  In this article we take a brief look at some of the activities that went on in Chicago.

Chicago Detours led an hour-long Badass Women of History Virtual Tour which spotlighted a wide range of women throughout history who were connected to Chicago in some way. One example was the activist Chicagoan women who fought make Chicago the location for the 1892 world fair. Led by Illinois based Emma Gilson Wallace they tried to create a ‘Women’s Department for the Fair.’

Illinois-headquartered Lifeway Foods CEO Julie Smolyansky sees Women’s History Month as

“a time to celebrate and honor the achievements of women throughout history…There’s not a single museum dedicated to the achievements, accomplishments, and contributions of women, it is incredibly important to honor and celebrate all the great things that women offer in the world.”

One can also make a stop at the Field Museum for an exhibition on the incredible strength of Apsáalooke women and Warrior who preserved Northern Plains tribe stories. See the century-old war shields and unique artifacts that are in this exhibition.

Founder and CEO of Chicago’s Vosges Haut Chocolat Katrina Markoff said:

“This particular year of Women’s History Month really means something kind of very different to me than in the past, I feel we have this amazing momentum into 2021, a sort of balancing the archetypes of male and female and it’s rising in a very female type of moon…I think that we’re coming into this golden age of balance between the genders, and a lot more respect for tenacity and unknown and the intuitive nature of women.”

These women have made incredible achievements. Support them and others by going out for dinner under the Let’s Talk & Dine Together: Celebration of International Women’s Day program.

Women’s History Month

While there does seem to be incredible chaos in the world right now, there is still cause for celebration.  Last month was Women’s History Month and we are coming up to the centenary milestone of women’s right to vote – ratified in America on August 18 2020.  There’s a lot to be happy about.

We take this opportunity to look at three of the amazing women in our very own communities: T. “Ayo” Alston, Siobhan Summers and Katy Winge.

T. “Ayo” Ashton  is today known for the Ayodele Drum and Dance Community that she established in 2009 This educational body was made for women to help them with their own self-confidence and to in turn, create strength in their local communities.

Born in Brooklyn, Ashton first found her love for Orisha culture and West African dance as an adolescent and since then she has focused her journey on exploring art, development techniques and growing in these areas.  Some of the artists she has worked with include: Baba Chuck Davis, Dierdre Dawkins, M’Bemba Bangoura and Mouminatou Camara.

Supervising producer at Chicago’s video production firm Bottle Rocket Media, Siobhan Summers started her career on Oprah Winfrey’s show in the production team.  Since then she has developed her skills to successfully create meaningful tales with powerful messages.  This involves the supervision of all productions from A-Z.  Her love of storytelling creates interpersonal connections that she has helped grow among her local community.

Katy Winge was the very first female analyst hired to cover the Nuggets for Altitude TV.  Getting to that role was not easy.  She began her career as a sports anchor, producer and reporter for KTTC/FOX 47 and at some point faced a fork in the road – carry on with her role or take a break and pursue a Masters degree in Journalism.  She opted for the latter and studied at Northwestern University, IL.  Even though she was advised by many to continue in her role as getting experience would be preferable to getting an education for career development, she went with her “gut” and does not regret that decision at all.  She explains that she got so much out of the education, including the people she met, the things she learned and the network she created which all played a big role in where she is today.

Today she tells everyone to “go with their gut” which obviously is different for everyone.  We all need to find our own journey.

So, in these trying times, let’s look at what we’ve achieved and how much more there is to do, no matter what situation we currently find ourselves in.

World Hindu Congress

The 2018 Hindu Women Forum (HWF) organized a Hindu Women Conference at this year’s World Hindu Congress that was held in Chicago last month at Hotel Westin, 70 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard.

The conference is held every 4 years and is an amalgamation of Hindu women from “diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and professions, including business, science, politics, and the arts, to share ideas and experiences as well as their contributions to variety of spheres.”

Triumphant Women of Chicago

Women are Chicago are strong, authoritative and successful.  This has been the  message across the different industries in business recently.  First, there was The Women’s March on 20 January whereby 250,000 women “marchers [came] together in downtown Chicago at the intersection of Congress and Columbus to celebrate the spirit of the resistance efforts over the past year and unite to focus on the 2018 elections and beyond.”

But that was not just a stand-alone event.  Prior to the march, there was a rally that took place between 11 a.m and 12:30 p.m. between Congress Parkway and Columbus Drive, featuring local speakers who discussed:

  1. women’s rights,
  2. getting women in more powerful official/government positions,
  • DACA recipients and Dreamers – deportation issues
  1. the ongoing struggle need for equality and fair representation of all citizens in the electoral system.

Speaker Asha Binbek of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, denounced President’s Trump’s platform of ‘Mak[ing] America Great Again,’ arguing that

Our different backgrounds, should be celebrated. Our race, our gender, our sexual orientation, our religion, whether you were born on this soil or sought refuge here or a future being able to come here to celebrate each other and support each other’s causes. This, THIS, is what makes America great!” Our need to be civically engaged has never been more important than it is now!”

At the end of last year, EvolveHer was launched.  Two factors are of note here in terms of timing: a) the #metoo campaign and b) the Women’s March.  While the concept of a co-working space exclusively for women is not a new one, it has been welcomed in Chicago.  With 5,000 square feet in office space, there are standard office amenities (kitchen, lounge, phone booths, etc.) and also those specific to women (milk pumping rooms, make up areas etc.). Women-related workshops are also held on subjects such as “finding your purpose,” and it is hoped that in the future 7-14 year old girls will be offered basic business classes. As Alicia Driskill, company founder pointed out:

“We have such great women’s groups and female entrepreneur vibes in Chicago, but there’s really no place to centralize it and bring us all together. We really wanted to create community, and be community driven, so that women can get to know each other and really elevate each other and support each other on the business front.”

The space can hold approximately 100 people working at once and the networking potential for these already powerful women is amazing.