Meet the World’s Youngest Self-Made Female Billionaire: Elizabeth Holmes.

by Annie Wilson, InternEH

According to Forbes, Elizabeth Holmes has been named the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire with a net worth of $4.5 billion. Earlier this month she was named as Time Magazine’s List of 100 most influential people. Her billion dollar idea?: a revolutionary way to make blood testing accessible for anybody. Holmes’ company, Theranos, created a system that brings together a minimally invasive and needle free method of blood withdrawal with hundreds of low cost tests that almost anyone could afford. Holmes’ intention is to restructure our healthcare system to be more preventative as opposed to a reactive:

“The current health care paradigm is one in which diagnosis often takes place after symptoms are already present, and diseases have begun to progress. We’re committed to changing that. We’re pioneering a new paradigm in which lab testing is accessible and affordable for everyone. When cost is no longer a consideration and people no longer have to be symptomatic in order to get a test. Meaning your patients can get the tests they need, and you can get the information you need, early and in time for therapy to be effective.” – Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos website

Holmes attended Stanford University but dropped out at the age of 19 to start Theranos in 2003. Since then, Holmes has impressed investors with the potential commercial, military, and humanitarian applications of her idea. Holmes has also acquired a very impressive board of directors, including former cabinet secretaries George Shultz, Bill Perry and Henry Kissinger, two former Senators, a retired CentCom commander, a retired Navy admiral and a former director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She has rapidly developed her company since 2003 and has notably partnered with Walgreens to build thousands of Wellness Centers for Theranos to carry out its testing. To date, Theranos has also accumulated $92 million in venture capital funding from investors like Larry Ellison and Draper Fisher Jurvetson with her first venture capital funding worth $5.8 million in 2005 at the age of 21. Holmes owns 84 patents to her name and Theranos is estimated to be worth $9 billion with Holmes owning half of its stock.

If you want to learn more about Elizabeth Holmes:

  • Click here for a video about how she came up with her business idea.
  • Click here for a timeline of Theranos’ conception
  • Click here to watch a TED Talk given by Holmes about the importance of early detection

Growing Women’s Representation in the STEM Fields

By Louisa Brown, WIPP Intern

STEM

Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics, known collectively as the STEM fields, are some of the fastest accelerating areas in the U.S economy today. Innovations seem to be springing up all around us, and with them new career opportunities that offer high wages and ample areas of growth. When we look to who are filling these jobs, however, the results are troubling. According to the new report from the American Association of University Women, titled Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing, only 12% of engineers are women, and women make up only 30% of computing professionals.  Although women are gaining ground in the science and mathematics fields, they are still falling behind in engineering and technology, the fields which have the highest number of opportunities and offer the highest return on investments.

So, why is this happening, and what can we do about it? In a virtual Town Hall meeting today, hosted by the AAUW and STEMconnector®, experts from higher education, industry and nonprofits had the chance to engage with the results of this important report, and discuss the many ways that organizations are already working to advance women in the STEM fields. Christianne Corbett of the AAUW and co-author of the report, started the discussion by advocating for an intersectional perspective which recognizes the ways in which women of color are even more underrepresented in the engineering and computing fields than their white counterparts. Women of all ethnicities, however, are subjected to gender biases and stereotypes that inhibit their ability to obtain and retain jobs in engineering and technology. Such biases and stereotypes are often implicit and culturally ingrained, making them that much harder to confront.

Acknowledging these biases is an essential first step towards equality, for both educators and employers. Rob Denson, of Des Moines Area Community College, highlighted some important ways that colleges and universities are already working with the STEM Higher Ed Council to address biases and better align educational and industry goals. Emphasizing workplace-learning through paid internships and early research experiences are important to retaining women in computer science and engineering majors, while underlining the social impact of such fields helps women commit to these majors and gain access to the career opportunities that come with them.

The virtual Town Hall meeting also included important input from women in the manufacturing, telecommunications and defense industries. Esra Ozer of the Alcoa Foundation, Anne Wintroub of AT&T Aspire and Betty Smith of Lockheed Martin all emphasized the importance of diversity and partnerships in the workplace. A range of educational pathways is essential to creating a representative work force, and strong mentorships give women the professional support they need to succeed in their careers.

Finally, Linda Hallman, the executive director of AAUW provided insight into the Million Women Mentors program which aims to provide women entering the STEM fields with meaningful mentor relationships. This program is just one of the many ways in which organizations across the country are taking tangible steps to improve representation from women in the technology and engineering industries. What are some solutions that you believe can help attract more girls and women into STEM careers?