Happy Women’s History Month!

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

As we look ahead to the 2021 NWA Tech Summit, I want to thank the two women serving as Co-Chairs this year, Cheryl Yarbrough and Christine Pummill. We are grateful for their leadership and grateful, too, for the contributions of the women who serve alongside them as part of our planning committee.

Across the tech sector, women represent roughly 28% of the workforce. While the Tech Summit committee outpaces this figure by more than 10%, we know that nominal gains are inadequate. At the current pace, The World Economic Forum estimates that workforce-wide gender parity in North America will take more than 100 years to achieve.

Following February’s celebration of Black History, Women’s History Month grants us the opportunity to consider the wider landscape of representation: According to ProjectDiane, funding for tech startups founded by women hovers below 3%; that figure drops to .27% for founders who are Black women.

There is work to be done and I am excited by what we can accomplish together. As Executive Director of the NWA Tech Summit, I look forward to aligning our efforts with the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion made by the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce. Here are some of the key areas we’re focused on:

  • Growing diversity among the NWA Tech Summit committee

  • Providing underrepresented communities, including K-12 and college students, with access to Tech Summit content

  • Bringing an array of diverse perspectives to Tech Summit programming

  • Partnering with minority-owned vendors

  • Supporting and learning from community partners who lead in this space

The tagline of the NWA Tech Summit has long been, “What’s next…after next?” I appreciate the rigor implicit in this question – the refusal to settle for the status quo. The same ethos will be essential to our pursuit of the goals outlined above. I hope you’ll let me know how we’re doing and invite you to contact me directly at awardlow@greaterbentonville.com.


Ashley Wardlow