One of the many reasons why Virgin Orbit is one of my favorite past employers is their commitment to diversity and transparency in what that they do. I’m thrilled that they published this image that shows how they’re addressing gender and race inequity in aerospace. They are leading the charge, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
Look at the two blue & white arrows.
The numbers are sobering.
84% of leadership positions in US aerospace are held by men, and 90% of US aerospace senior leadership is white. The situation isn’t much different in Europe.
Certainly my 23 years’ experience in the industry bears these numbers out. I was usually the only woman in the room. I mention this to bring attention to the experience of women and non-white colleagues in the aerospace industry. ⠀
Thankfully, there is good news!
We are seeing aspiring and inspiring young female engineers earn prestigious internships and mentorships like the Brooke Owens Fellowship @owensfellowship (Go Brookies!). We are seeing Latinas lead engineering teams that build rovers headed to other planets – shout out to the inimitable Diana Trujillo @FromCaliToMars of @NASAJPL We are seeing more women and people of color advance in the industry. The recent live webcast of the SpaceX test launch of the Crew Dragon to the ISS certainly showed us some of that.
But these gains are not fast enough to make gender and race equity a reality within one generation. I’ve been in the room when a Black Woman with an Astronautics PhD was asked to make coffee for those assembled, just because she was the lone Black Woman in the room. Yes, you read that right.
138 years to get to gender parity? I’m not patient enough for that.
We have to do more. Accelerate the pace of change.
This is why I do the work I do.
I help technical companies build more inclusive cultures, which improves team resilience, collaboration, communication and performance.
Most importantly, I work with women in aerospace, oil & gas, software, finance and other technical fields who want to advance, gain respect and get into the leadership positions. Women who frequently find themselves in rooms full of men dealing directly with the realities of a very white-male-centric culture.
From the way that technical issues are debated, to the jokes that are told, to the way that promotions and recognition are doled out, if you’re one of these women you’re probably fighting to get yourself heard at least some of the time.
You may be seeing male colleagues who are less competent but louder advance ahead of you.
You might be finding that the “old boys’ network” very much supports the sons of engineers who went before you, irrespective of ability.
You’re likely finding yourself being labelled as “too demanding” and “not assertive enough” at the same time.
And I’ll bet that you’re also twisting yourself into a pretzel trying to walk the impossibly thin line of what’s deemed “appropriate” for a go-getter woman in your chosen discipline. ⠀
Let’s flip the script. ⠀
You’re smart, educated, a woman who doesn’t compromise anywhere else. Why should you have to waste so much of your energy on this ridiculous pretzel nonsense?
You can flip the script so that your energy is put into the technical work and the collaboration and the teamwork that needs to happen to bring amazing technology to reality.
You can flip the script so that you can execute in a way that doesn’t wear you out and have you on the couch with wine and ice cream at the end of the workday. ⠀
You can flip the script so that a few years down the line you’re not dealing with a background malaise of “Is this worth it?”⠀ ⠀
Because let’s face it, if you don’t flip the script you’re going to consider leaving a few more years in to what was once a beloved career.
And that won’t get you what you want.
Nor will it get us to gender parity at the top of industry. ⠀
Let’s flip the script so that you’ll stay to lead the team, walk into the room feeling confident and resilient. Confident of your ability to play the strategy, to hold your own in the face of challenges, to push back against aggressive debating tactics, to speak up and influence the debate so that your ideas are considered and enabled. ⠀
How do we elevate you to become the Maestra of not only your career, but also of the teamwork and the collaboration that builds rockets and spacecraft, infrastructure and systems that will power the space generation? ⠀
We work it like an engineering problem.
We break it down and build the components of mindset, skills, tactics and strategy needed to advance.
We use neuroscience, attention training, emotional intelligence and business strategy blended with years of experience mentoring and winning against all odds.
We use also combine it with decades of international aerospace experience and teachings from some of the world’s leading instructors of power, and especially women and power. Not “empowerment”, “self-affirmation” or “stepping into your power” but real influence: the ability to get others to see your vision and not just support it but actually enable it.
This approach has been tested under the toughest conditions.
It’s altered the trajectories of my clients’ careers. ⠀
So if you’re a woman in aerospace, software or another technical field and want to dramatically expand your ability to be heard in the room, enroll others in the vision that you have, and be exquisitely resilient in the face of challenges – let’s talk.
If you’re a business owner or executive and understand – or want to – that having more women in your executive team can improve your business’ bottom line by as much as 10x, let’s talk.
Schedule your elevation Strategy Session today: https://hannasteplewska.as.me/elevationstrategysession