Multiple academic studies, along with heaps of personal experiences, have shown that in business settings men not only talk more than women, but also tend to more frequently interrupt their female peers. The reasons that the studies have settled on vary from men using conversation as a tool of dominance to men simply being raised to perceive interruptions differently, but the evidence of men feeling more entitled to voice their opinions is quite clear.

This, of course, is very annoying on a day-to-day basis, but there are larger problems stemming out from it that have a truly negative effect on working women; including the fact that the more someone talks, the more likely their voice will be amplified.

That’s where Women in Business hopes to be a positive force. We hope to amplify the voices that might otherwise be interrupted. That’s why we are proud to continue our tradition of celebrating women-led businesses and organizations with our second annual Fifty Women- Owned Businesses to Follow list.

Inside this issue you will be introduced to 50 women-owned and women-led companies that serve as shining examples of what women can accomplish in business no matter what the industry. Companies and organizations included range from construction firms to advertising to information technology. By including such a large variety, we aim to blur the conceptual line between men and women’s work until people forget it ever existed.

As always, the opportunity for Women in Business to feature such an array of organizations came from our readers, who sent in nominations from communities across our 23-county readership. A few names on the list may be familiar from previous lists such as Top 100, Women Making a Difference or last year’s Fifty to Follow. Many are new additions that we were happy to discover have found such success in Central Pennsylvania.

We hope that the final list represents both large well-established companies and small startups full of potential, while also covering every region of our readership. Readers will see that growing your business is possible in all corners of the commonwealth, whether you are in Altoona, Clairton or Troy.

It is not only our mission to provide a podium for current success stories, but also to support women who have yet to break into the business world. With this in mind, we asked each company selected for some advice that they could pass on to someone else looking to succeed in their industry and hope that their answers demystify the intimidating task of starting and maintaining a business.

With this special edition finalized, Women in Business is moving on to collecting submissions for Women Making a Difference, which will shine a spotlight on the individual women who have taken a leading role in business and in their community. The edition will be published this fall and nomination forms can be found on our website under the “Women Making a Difference” tab. .

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2017-06-16 / Top 50 Women Owned Businesses

Blackburn Center

Est. 1976 | Greensburg

In December 1976, what is now known as Blackburn Center was born, providing services for rape victims. The agency expanded to include domestic violence services in 1978, and opened an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence in 1979. In 2015, Blackburn Center expanded its mission to include the services to victims of all other types of crime.

Blackburn Center is the primary organization in Westmoreland County offering services - at no charge to clients - for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, incest and other crimes. These services include a 24-hour hotline, counseling and therapy, advocacy/accompaniment to court proceedings and emergency rooms; shelter for victims of intimate partner violence and their children; community and student education programs; in- service trainings for professionals; and primary prevention programs on college campuses and with other groups. Annually, Blackburn Center reaches more than 3,500 individuals with client services and 15,000 individuals through education and primary prevention programming.

In April, over 1,100 people from across Westmoreland County participated in Blackburn’s 7th annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, to raise awareness about the incidence of gender-based violence. Men were invited to walk in women’s high- heeled shoes as they joined their voices with women in speaking out against the social norms and attitudes that perpetuate domestic and sexual violence.

Their advice to someone in this industry is, “stay focused on your mission and develop avenues for community engagement and involvement in your mission.”

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