Impact At Scale

The Beeck Center engages global leaders to drive social change at scale.

Women Disruptive Innovations Social Impact Beeck Center

#SheDisrupts and the Power of Inclusion

By: Marta Urquilla, Deputy Director


“If you cultivate #resilience with compassion, you will TRANSFORM the world” ~ Pat Christen, Managing Director of the Omidyar Group at #SheDisrupts 2015

On March 25, 2015, the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation at Georgetown University, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, and the S&R Foundation’s Halcyon Incubator co-hosted “Women Leading Disruptive Innovations.” It featured women entrepreneurs from across sectors that have achieved success through hard work, risk taking, and perseverance. We had over 130 guests, including women entrepreneurs; Georgetown students, faculty, and staff; DC area entrepreneurs; incubators and innovation hubs; investors (e.g. financiers, philanthropists, finance companies); government officials; and other champions of women’s entrepreneurship and disruptive innovations.

Opening the convening with an incredible spoken word performance, artist Elizabeth Acevedo set the tone for the incredible leaders in their fields who took the stage throughout the day, including Pat Christen, Jean Case, Dr. Sachiko Kuno, Carolyn Berkowitz, andMelissa Bradley. They, along with our awesome panelists and featured PopTalk presenters, contributed to a powerful event that showcased amazing women disrupting industry norms and creating opportunities for others. These women are achieving for maximum impact and disruptive innovations — helping women get back on their feet, investing in businesses that have environmental impact, and creating opportunities for women to grow their businesses. Throughout the day, speakers and participants alike shared their enthusiasm, struggles, and insights, and offered very practical and honest advice. They discussed challenges in their industries as women, how they achieved success, and what more can be done to encourage and support women entrepreneurs. The day proved to be incredibly positive, provided energy for many, and introduced incredible role models to the many young women in the audience.

As we continue to strive towards solving the 21st century’s most complex problems, we need to also draw from the core competencies that women leaders provide. Studies have shown that women leaders have higher scores in their ability to: solve problems and analyze issues, build relationships, communicate powerfully and prolifically, and connect people to the outside world.  A more complex world also needs these skills and these types of leaders.

It was also clear from the conversation that women have been and continue to lead disruptive positive change. In his popular book,The Innovators, Walter Isaacson highlights “Women Who Have Shaped Technology” and had been left out of the conversation. We know there are disruptive women leaders across many sectors — finance, government, business, philanthropy, and the social sector. We want to continue to increase their visibility and bring them together for a series of robust, candid conversations about how they are driving innovation and advancing change both globally and domestically.

The conference generated excitement for young and old alike. It was bustling with energy and guests tweeted live using the#shedisrupts hashtag, making it the #3 Trending Topic on Twitter in Washington DC that day. Read some of the tweets below:

“Women all over the world face barriers to entrepreneurship. We’ll hear today about women transcending those.” @MelanneVerveer

“Less than 12% of professional investors are women. Women are not risk-averse – they’re risk-aware.” @shellyporges

“If you cultivate #resilience with compassion, you will TRANSFORM the world” – Pat Christen @HopeLab

“I told my Mom I was speaking at an event for disruptive women & she said, ‘Mei, what did you do now?!’” – Mei Xu@blisslivinghome

“How do we foster #Curiosity, excellent mistakes, many ideas, and #perseverance?” –Pat Christen @HopeLab

“Every moment in time I have chosen the thing that was most exciting to me” Maya Shankar

“We may not see the roots, but we carry the fruit.” @AcevedoWrites

“Resilience comes from purpose, connection and control.” @HopeLab

Photos from the Event. View more on the #SheDisrupts Image Gallery.

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