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Aerospace, Technology

Aerospace Panel Focuses On Bringing Women Into Male-Dominated Industry

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Cheap Price Microsoft Visual Studio Premium 2013 Schools and parents need to push science, math and engineering harder and earlier, said four women in aerospace offering insight on how to pull more women into an industry dominated by men.

here “I think it starts before high school,” said aerospace engineering systems manager Sarah Bergagnini on a Monday morning panel moderated by U.S. Rep. Steve Knight. “I think it starts very much in elementary school.”

Bergagnini and other women leaders at Meggitt Control Systems said improvements have been made in a program at the company’s Simi Valley campus. Meggitt leaders said about 30 percent of the international aerospace company’s senior leaders in Simi Valley are women.

They said about 30 percent of Meggitt’s Simi Valley employees are women. The company manufactures products that include fire and smoke protection systems for commercial and military aircraft. It employs about 12,000 people globally.

 

”Gender inequity could improve as a younger generation enters the industry, arguing millennials focus more on a person’s job performance than on gender.”

But the gender gap in aerospace companies across the U.S. appears large with federal data presented by the Boston Globe stating that less than 8 percent of 130,000 aerospace engineers in 2016 were women.

“I think we’re moving in a good direction,” Bergagnini said. “Are we doing enough? No.”

Knight, R-Palmdale, serves on the House Armed Services Committee and also sits on a committee dedicated to space, science and technology. He co-sponsored a bill introduced this summer that would increase educational efforts in science and related fields for children younger than 11.

He pointed at high schools Monday, asserting they have to do a better job of making kids math proficient when they enter college. He and others pushed for more efforts aimed at showing girls what it means to work in aerospace.

“If it’s engineer related, it’s marketed to a boy,” he said, emphasizing the role of aerospace pioneers like Amelia Earhart and the first woman pilot to break the sound barrier, Jackie Cochran.

“There are heroes out there in the aerospace industry and we have to show that,” he said.

Panelists said parents should work with schools in pushing children to at least consider careers that can include building space shuttles or making brakes for aircraft.

“They need to be coming together and they need to be talking,” said Dolores Watai, vice president of finance for an Orange County division of Meggitt.

 Panelists talked about the need to employ social media and online videos as a tool. They said air shows should be promoted as a way to draw attention to aerospace.

“Let’s show how cool aerospace is,” Bergagnini said.

Knight suggested gender inequity could improve as a younger generation enters the industry, arguing millennials focus more on a person’s job performance than on gender.

“I think there’s less of a divide,” he said, also pushing efforts to connect people with aerospace as early as possible.

“If they can touch it and feel how it works, that’s the most important thing for that third or fourth grader,” he said.

After the panel ended, Bergagnini talked about pay equity in many technological industries including aerospace. She said women are often quicker to accept the first offer made rather than to push on with more negotiations.

She suggested efforts that instill more confidence in girls will pay off when they enter the job market.

“You can ask for a raise,” she said. “The worse they can say is no.”

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