IU's first lady focuses on creating opportunities for women

INDIANAPOLIS - As the 18th first lady of Indiana University, Laurie McRobbie has proven herself to be a trailblazer.

McRobbie is especially focused on supporting and creating opportunities for women. She was an honorary chair and panelist at the National Association of Women Business Owners luncheon Thursday afternoon.

"I think women’s leadership has really always been in the back of my mind… if not in the forefront," McRobbie said.

McRobbie is forging new paths in the university's outreach to women. She founded the Women's Philanthropy Council at the IU Foundation and helped to establish the new Indiana University Center of Excellence for Women in Technology.

"If you ask women to rank the causes they care the most about, education is almost always at the top of the list," she said.

Education set McRobbie on her road to success. The history major ended up in a technology career and she believes timing is everything.

"Because I happened to catch a wave of innovation, this was right when the first personal computer came out," McRobbie said.

Her path included an unexpected turn, a heartbreaking loss, when her first husband passed away. She later married Michael McRobbie, who would become president of IU.

"I was getting married again, and blending two families and moving to Indiana -- none of which had been on my board, they were not in my plan," McRobbie said.

Now, as IU's first lady, McRobbie is sharing her valuable insights with others including overcoming obstacles, learning from failures and taking risks.

McRobbie offered some words of wisdom.

"Not be afraid to make a fool of yourself, people are actually much more forgiving than you think they're going to be," she said. "I think it’s important, very important, for young women to see good positive role models, but also see women mentoring, because you have to learn how to do that and you don't learn it unless you see it."

McRobbie is also dedicated to Indiana’s STEM initiative which inspires young women to achieve careers in science and technology.

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