TEDxWomen 2013 – Invented Here

TEDxWomen 2013 – Invented HereTED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences  founded in 1984 as a one-off event. TED events are held throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia and offer live streaming of the talks. By May 2013, over 1,500 talks were available free online and by November 13, 2012, TED Talks had been watched one billion times worldwide.

Each year, hundreds of TED events are held across the globe. These conferences and talks are meant to deliver insight into ‘ideas worth spreading’. And as part of TED’s multi-year conversation, TEDWomen 2013 celebrated a conversation with innovative women across the planet, with the theme: 'Invented here'.

This theme is particularly relevant to the idea of how women and girls are reshaping the future. Where ‘generations of educated women are transforming entire industries, women are change agents, inventors, idea champions’.

The TEDxWomen events held around the world emphasize the importance of life-long learning; whether through diving head-on into challenging situations or learning on the fly in unfamiliar situations.

Some of the stories from these remarkable women prove that we should not be afraid of risk, but be wise enough to surround ourselves with the resources that can support risky endeavors.

The women who spoke at the conferences have a voice; and using their voice, are catalysts for inspiring the next generation of women to become game-changers. Not only do these women love what they do, but they love engineering change and using innovation and creativity to find solutions to complex and advanced problems, or interacting with transformative technology.

These women are proof of the positive impacts that technology, innovation, and invention in any form can have on society.

How we can revolutionize the way we live and work using innovation; it’s about allowing curiosity to run its course in our daily lives.

From December 4th - 6th 2013, the TEDxWomen events around the world highlighted the innovative minds in local communities. In Toronto, Canada, two TEDxWomen events were held: TEDxTheAnnexWomen and TEDxDistilleryDistrictWomen, designed to ‘celebrate local thought leaders, community builders, and idea generators while continuing to build around the ideas presented at TEDWomen. A few of the local speakers included:

Teneile Warren, Program Coordinator and Lead Facilitator for Literature for Life, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of this generation and the next through the power of reading. Teneile spoke on Reading for Social Change.

Marta Nowinska, a social entrepreneur and the founder of Swapsity. She traded her Bay Street finance job to start Canada’s leading swapping community. It is her unique experience and exposure to the world of money and complementary economy that enables her to draw from the best of both worlds.

Dr. Laurie Petrou as an associate professor at the RTA School of Media, Ryerson University, discussed how to unlock gender constrictions for boys and girls. She is a Globe and Mail Top 100 Author (Top 5 First Fiction), and her work involves storytelling, gender, and digital media.

Christina Crook spent 31 days typewriting letters to a friend rather than turning to the internet for distraction, entertainment and affirmation. Her ‘Letters from a Luddite’ project garnered national media attention and her book Digital Detox: Rethinking Our Lives Online is forthcoming from New Society Publishers (Fall 2014.)

Cathy Nesbitt is an award-winning local environmental innovator, a worm advocate, and founder of Cathy’s Crawly Composters (est. 2002). Cathy’s numerous composting research projects have resulted in several tonnes of material being diverted from landfill and she spoke about the wonderful world of worms as unsung heroes.

Myself, as a Mission Systems Engineer working on the next generation of Canadian space robotics, and other Canadian space exploration programs. I discussed the idea of on-orbit satellite servicing, the importance of sustainable and socially responsible exploration, and why we explore.

These two events in Toronto represented the city’s diverse communities of academics, artists, small and large business, and organizations that are the heart of the city. But certainly the same can be said for all of the global TEDxWomen events, each representing an artery of social innovation across the globe.

The powerful stories of the women taking the stage prove that anything is possible, and that women around the world have the drive to instigate real change and provide solutions to real problems.

Photo courtesy of: http://www.bettinabogar.com

Natalie Panek is a robotic operator and aerospace engineer at MDA Space Missions, previously interning at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center and NASA Ames Research Center. She’s driven a solar-powered car across North America, has a pilot’s license, and skydived with Korea’s first Astronaut. With degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Natalie has co-authored papers on Microgravity Combustion and On-orbit Satellite Servicing. She is an advocate for women in STEM, encouraging women to dive head-on into challenging careers. She has spoken at TEDx and on multiple panels for women in tech on the topics of advancement, leadership, and space exploration.

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