Women in Ag & Tech Entrepreneurship Forum
Over 100 CSUMB students, faculty, and community members came to hear women in traditionally male-dominated agriculture and technology fields share stories of the challenges they’ve faced, as well as current and future opportunities for women.
The Forum, held on February 28, 2018, was organized by the iiED’s Brad Barbeau and Mary Jo Zenk, and Amy Wu, creator and director of “From Farms to Incubators”. Ms. Wu is also an investigative reporter covering agriculture and the environment for the USA Today Network.
These women bring powerful stories from their own experience and work environments.— Dr. Bude Su, Chair of the School of Computing and Design, CSUMB
“Most of the panelists are local [to the Central Coast], although a couple [are from] from Silicon Valley,” said Barbeau. “We don’t have to go very far in this area to find prominent and successful women.”
The afternoon event consisted of three panels: Women in Ag, Women in Ag-Tech, and Women in Tech. Each of the panels had a moderator and 3-4 speakers. Speakers included Lorri Koster, former CEO and chair of Mann Packing, Margaret D’Arrigo of Taylor Farms, Ray Corpuz, Jr, City Manager of Salinas, and Luis Alejo, Monterey County Supervisor. They were joined by eleven other women entrepreneurs and innovators.
Panel moderator, Dr. Bude Su, observed that only a third of her classmates from her computer science undergraduate program in China were women. “Coming here as the chair of the School of Computing and Design, I realized the situation is much worse in the United States,” she said. “Even if we get them here, we have difficulty keeping women in the major.” Su noted how discouraging it feels to walk into CSUMB’s own Network Security course; out of 30 students seated, there is not one woman.
Su is not alone in her desire to see more female representation in technical fields. Organizer Amy Wu wrote a series of articles called “From Farms to Incubators,” which shared the stories of minority women entrepreneurs in ag-tech in the Salinas Valley and beyond.
“The city of Salinas was promoting ag-tech, but I just wondered how many of those companies were started or led by women,” Wu said. “I went looking for the answer and I found women who are entrepreneurs, who are minorities, who are dedicated to agriculture and technology.”
Attention needs to be paid to these women who are making a difference. I think it’s important just making people aware that the stories are there.— Dr. Bude Su, Chair of the School of Computing and Design, CSUMB
The goal of the forum was to expose students and the community to opportunities that exist for women in ag and tech — and the skills needed to seize them.
A complete list of speakers, sponsors, and videos of the event, can be found at csumb.edu/innovation, under iiED Events & Programs> Women in Ag & Tech Entrepreneurship Forum.
Source: Lanese, Nicoletta. (2018, February). Monterey Herald
Dr. Bude Su
Chair of the School of Computing and Design, CSUMB
Founder and CEO, Think Beyond Plastic
Dr. Tammé Shinshuri
Founder & CEO, Shinshuri Foundation
Founder & Chief Content Director, From Farms to Incubators
Manager, City of Salinas
CEO, Marrone Bio Innovations
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Santa Cruz Tech Beat