The Össur Women’s Leadership Initiative, founded in 2014 to support the growing number of women in O&P in the United States, has now expanded to a global level to support women in O&P around the world. We held our first global event on Thursday, June 10, a virtual workshop entitled: Women in Innovation: Empowering the Future of O&P.

We featured five speakers from five different countries, each a woman who has broken barriers and glass ceilings within the profession. We brought together over 100 women and men from over 12 countries. Thank you to our speakers Laura Barr, Scotland; Nina Bodre, USA; Hildur Einarsdottir, Iceland; Dr. Jennifer Ernst, Germany; and Marissa Nel, South Africa, for your inspiring presentations!

It was inspiring and exciting to feel the energy and excitement of a group so connected by their shared passion for enabling people to live lives without limitations. This event shown a spotlight on what we can achieve on a global scale when we join forces and collectively share ideas and knowledge, and proved we are truly better together.

Ideas from the event include how engineering can focus on the specific needs of female amputees, forming an ÖWLI women’s exchange to bring clinicians to underserved areas of the world, and an ÖWLI women’s network to create a base for sharing ideas, technology, support and solutions, both for patients and for women in the profession.

Össur is the only manufacturer who has acknowledged the significant contributions of women in the O&P profession. ÖWLI will continue to offer events and content as part of Össur’s ongoing commitment to our patients and to female professionals in the field.

10-10:10am EDT

Welcome and Opening Remarks - Karen Edwards (USA)

10:10-10:25am EDT

Advancing Women in the O&P Industry in Third World Countries – Marissa Nel, CPO (S. Africa)

This talk discusses the challenges experienced within the sphere of O&P service delivery in low to middle income countries, and the limited opportunities and slow pace of transformation for female O&P’s in these markets. Marissa will also explore how we can partner with women in third world countries to share knowledge and skills through exchange programs across borders and cultures. Together as women we can lead the change and the future of O&P women in third world countries and uplift the industry globally.

10:25-10:40am EDT

Empowering Professional Development Beyond the Standard P&O Role – Laura Barr (Scotland)

An Orthotist’s journey from Orthotics to Orthopaedics – breaking professional boundaries to develop a role for current and future advanced practitioners.

10:40-10:50am EDT

Small Group Breakout Discussion

Discussion Topic:  What needs still exist for women in the O&P profession?

10:50-10:55am EDT


10:55-11:10am EDT

Does One Size & Function Fit All? – Hildur Einarsdottir (Iceland)

Over the past decades, the prosthetics industry has advanced through technology upgrades and innovation. But have those product developments addressed the needs and wishes of female amputees?

11:10-11:25am EDT

Women's Work? How We Overcome Gender Barriers – Dr. Jennifer Ernst (Germany)

Despite the increasing number of female medical students and surgical residents, the percentage of female full professors in surgery is increasing disproportionately. A comparable observation is true and can be made for women in O&P academics.  Current leadership, role models, and gender bias are factors responsible for this discrepancy. Are women professional networks a solution to overcome the glass ceiling and sticky floors phenomena? In this lecture I will share my personnel experiences with a Women´s German, academic network empowering female professionals.

11:25-11:35am EDT

Small Group Breakout Discussion

Discussion Topic:  How can continue to network to share ideas, support each other, and share knowledge? Brainstorm ways women can connect across the globe. What topics of support could be shared (clinical, women’s empowerment, career networking, etc.) and what platforms work best (Zoom meetings, in-person conferences, online blogs, etc.)

11:35-11:50am EDT

The Two Sides of Good Enough – Nina Bondre (USA)

Have you convinced yourself to settle for a "good enough" situation, or wondered if you are "good enough" to achieve your dreams? Let's explore these self-limiting beliefs together and learn how to conquer them.

11:50am-12pm EDT

Call to Action and Closing Remarks – Karen Edwards (USA)

Our Speakers

Laura Barr

Laura Barr is an Advanced Orthotic Practitioner, working within the Orthotic and Orthopaedic services at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. She graduated from the University of Strathclyde with BSc honours in 2007 and completed her MSc at Glasgow Caledonian University in 2016. During her employment in NHS GGC she developed a specialist interest in musculoskeletal conditions of the foot and ankle, and subsequently has held leadership and advanced practice roles within the Orthotic and Orthopaedic services. Laura is currently undertaking post-graduate study in Management and Leadership at Glasgow University, and she has completed qualifications in the Theory of Podiatric Surgery and Injection Therapy.  She has taught internationally and extensively throughout the UK on the subject of foot and ankle pathologies.

Nina Bondre

Nina Bondre, CPO, FAAOP is the Clinical Educator for Cascade Orthopedic Supply, LP. She completed her BS in Neuroscience at Duke University, followed by a Master's in Prosthetics & Orthotics at Northwestern University. Nina's clinical focus as a CPO was working with pediatric and spinal cord injury patients. She is an active member of the profession, serving on the AOPA Clinical Content and Women in O&P Workgroups, as a Peer Reviewer for JPO, and is a founding member of Ottobock's DE&I council. She has presented at numerous regional and national conferences, and has participated in several DE&I panels.

Karen Edwards

Karen Edwards is a Senior Area Manager for Össur Prosthetics and the founder and Director of the Össur Women’s Leadership Initiative. She also consults women and girls, educating them on professional success and feminine power via the Strong and Skyward program. Karen is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and has a 30-year business background in media negotiating and medical sales, and she is certified in women’s leadership. Karen lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Hildur Einarsdottir

Hildur Einarsdottir is an Electronics Engineer with a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering with focus on biomechanics and computational neuroscience. Following academic research and work in the biotech industry in the UK, Hildur joined Össur in early 2009. Hildur has held several roles within Össur, originally as a design engineer on the bionic (computer controlled) prosthetic products, followed by several years leading the Global Product Management team for Prosthetics and lately leading the Strategy & Operations division within Research and Development. Hildur is a native Icelander and is works from Össur’s headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Jennifer Ernst

Jennifer Ernst is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon at the University Medicine Center Göttingen where she is the Specialist Coordinator for the Sarcoma Center and for Amputee Care. She is also head of the junior research group MOBILISE.

Marissa Nel

Marissa Nel is a healthcare practitioner, specializing as a Certified Prosthetist Orthotist. Marissa was the first woman in South Africa to qualify as a CPO in 1993 and the first female to own a private practice in South Africa (1994). She founded Marissa Nel & Associates in 2001 as a leading orthotic and prosthetic facility with 9 clinics within South Africa and Mauritius. Marissa was awarded the Regional Businesswoman of the Year award by the Businesswomen’s Association in 2016 and was also recognized by CEO Global Awards in 2017 as Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government within the Medical and Veterinary sector in three categories: Regional, Country, and African Continent winner. She successfully designed and implemented the first mobile prosthetic clinic in South Africa in 2005 and has since completed 500 mobile clinics in rural areas of South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and Malawi.

Develop. Support. Lead.

ÖWLI is a purpose driven and diverse network of women professionals in the field of Orthotics and Prosthetics.