Women in STEM

September 2, 2021
By Sandra Jontz
Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, USAF, deputy chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Cyber Effects Operations, delivers the keynote address Wednesday at Women in AFCEA’s Women in the Workforce: A Journey in STEM 2021 conference. Photo by Elizabeth Moon

While attitudes and practices that empower women in the workplace have certainly improved over the past several decades, it’s still not enough—especially when it comes to ensuring girls aspiring to careers in math and sciences have the opportunities and support to reach those goals.

Such was the consensus Wednesday during an afternoon of speeches and panel discussions at the second annual AFCEA Women in the Workforce: A Journey in STEM conference addressing the challenges professional women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) face, and the solutions to break down those barriers.

August 27, 2021
 
Attendees from the annual Girls Day Out (GDO) learn about 3D modeling and printing at the College of Charleston in 2018. More than 100 girls from four Lowcountry school districts attended the camp, hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with Trident Technical College via Cyber Secure, College of Charleston, Bosch, Naval Health Clinic Charleston, Paul Mitchell the School Charleston, and Nucor Steel Berkeley. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released

Essye Miller, retired Defense Department principal deputy chief information officer, has continued her commitment to growing the cybersecurity workforce and increasing representation of women in STEM careers.

“One of my post-government commitments was to continue my efforts to build the next generation of cyber talent, especially with underrepresented communities,” Miller said. The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation (NCSF) was created to help close the critical skills gap in cybersecurity.  It offered me the perfect opportunity to stay engaged and follow up on my commitment.”

March 3, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
Leaders discuss cyber workforce disparities during the AFCEATechNet Indo-Pacific conference on March 3.

The 35th annual AFCEA TechNet Indo-Pacific conference featured a panel with top female leaders addressing cybersecurity workforce issues. Having ever-present cybersecurity training, reaching a younger audience on their level and leveraging women who may be seeking a second career are all ways to close the cybersecurity workforce gaps, the leaders said.

October 13, 2020
By Technical Sgt. Bonnie Rushing, USAF
Technical Sgt. Bonnie Rushing, USAF, is accustomed to busting through barriers but says a culture change is necessary to help other women do the same.

Challenge after challenge, women overcome barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields and organizations. Allow me to tell you my story. I am Technical Sgt. Bonnie Rushing in the United States Air Force and I am a woman warrior. I faced challenges from the very beginning of my time in the military, during training, and in operations. Not only have I overcome every obstacle along the way, I have come out on top. Let me take you through my journey as a woman warrior and plead for your aid in continued culture change.

September 3, 2020
By Julianne Simpson
Rear Adm. Danelle Barrett, USN (Ret.), gives the keynote address at the Women's Appreciation Reception during West 2018. Credit: Michael Carpenter

When Rear Adm. Danelle Barrett, USN (Ret.), joined the Navy in 1989, she couldn’t program her VCR. Now she’s proud to say she can program a router. A history major who grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Boston University, she hoped to escape the cold weather when she joined the Navy.

“I want to live somewhere warm, I don’t even care what the job is,” Adm. Barrett admitted during the Women in the Workforce: A Journey in STEM virtual event. “So it was serendipity that somebody looked out for me and gave me a great job in communications on my first tour.”

August 31, 2020
By Maryann Lawlor
Dr. Irma Becerra, president, Marymount University (c), wears a face mask alongside orientation leaders and community assistants as Marymount students move back to campus for the fall 2020 semester.  Photo by Marymount University

From plumbing to space travel, the vast majority of future good-paying jobs will involve technology. Not only will these careers offer regularly increased salaries but also opportunities for advancement and, even more importantly, independence. These are some of Irma Becerra’s beliefs borne of personal experience, a deep passion for technology and a personal purpose in education.

August 19, 2020
By Julianne Simpson
Participants of Latina SciGirls complete a hands-on activity at the Children's Science Center. Credit: Children's Science Center

Laahiri Chalasani’s passion for STEM didn’t really begin until college. Now, as senior manager of Lab Experience at the Children’s Science Center in Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia, and co-founder of the Latina SciGirls program in Northern Virginia, she lives and breathes it. And, she wants to make sure it doesn’t take young girls until college to build their STEM confidence.

April 1, 2019
 
Col. Kathy Swacina, USA (Ret.) (c), receives the 2019 Women’s Appreciation Award from DeEtte Gray, AFCEA chairwoman of the board, and Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), AFCEA president and CEO.

Col. Kathy Swacina, USA (Ret.), and her husband Lt. Col. Dan Swacina, USA (Ret.), have generously donated $15,000 to endow a new scholarship for female students in Georgia who are majoring in STEM.

The Col. Kathleen Swacina Scholarship will be awarded to one deserving female student each year in the amount of $1,000. The program will be open to students majoring in STEM subjects and enrolled full-time as an undergraduate at a college or university in the state of Georgia. Students may attend a community college so long as they intend to transfer to a four-year institution and complete their bachelor’s.

March 14, 2019
By George I. Seffers
During a February 14 fireside chat at the West Conference, Lt. Gen. Lori Reynolds, USMC, deputy commandant for information, U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters (c), and Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, DISA and commander of the Joint Forces Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (r), reflect on the challenges facing women in the military. DeEtte Gray, president of U.S. operations, CACI International and chairwoman of the AFCEA board, moderated the event. Credit: Michael Carpenter

Women face special challenges in the military and in technical careers. Those challenges are magnified for military women who are also in technical careers, but two successful military officers who have overcome those challenges have some words of support for those following in their footsteps.

September 1, 2018
By Terry Halvorsen

During the past several months, as I have visited organizations in the United States and across the world, I have heard a lot from both men and women about the need to do more to promote women in technology to leadership roles. I asked my colleague Barbara Hoffman, vice president for global strategic operations at Samsung, a former member of the Senior Executive Service and a U.S. Defense Department employee, to provide her perspectives on this issue.

May 16, 2018
By Beverly Cooper
Panelists discuss women in the cyber workforce during a session at the Defensive Cyber Security Symposium.

Between 1.5 and 3 million cyber professionals will be needed worldwide by the year 2020 according to various studies. However, the majority of individuals currently entering the field are male; estimates are only 5 percent to 11 percent of professionals entering technical fields are women on a global basis. It is critical to bring more women into cyber fields not only to fortify the cyber workforce with more talent but also to apply the power of diversity that leads to better solutions.

July 20, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan, USAF, discusses her unique path, barriers she helped break and future opportunities that exist for women in the Air Force.

I was walking our two dogs listening to a “Stuff Mom Never Told You” podcast when the women in STEM idea piqued my interest. The topic intrigued me mostly because I thought in 2016 the issue of gender in the workplace had been settled. In a way, I was right. Career options for women were no longer limited to teaching, nursing or the nunnery.

July 20, 2017
By Julianne Simpson
Caroline Scheck, a mechanical engineer with the Additive Manufacturing Project Office, tells middle- and high-school students with the Washington, D.C., Girls in Technology program about the Manufacturing, Knowledge and Education Lab, Naval Surface Warfare Center in March. (U.S. Navy photo by Dustin Q. Diaz/Released)

Unlike my colleague Maryann Lawlor, who was told she could be one of three things growing up–a teacher, a nurse or a nun–I was never told I could not do something because I was a girl. I never felt like I had to be quiet in class to get a good grade or let my older brother win video games to make him like me. I played soccer and swam on the swim team just like all the boys, and later was a lifeguard alongside many of them. I treated them as equals and felt respected in return. They were simply my friends.

March 22, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Women leaders from the U.S. Defense Department speak during an AFCEA DC Chapter monthly breakfast. From l to r: moderator Mary Legere; Barbara Hoffman; Lt. Gen. VeraLinn "Dash" Jamieson, USAF; Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, USA; and Lynn Wright.

Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, USAF, is thankful that her ears bleed in unpressurized aircraft cabins.

She might not otherwise have become an intelligence officer, and now the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and the Air Force’s senior intelligence officer. 

She entered the Air Force through the ROTC program at West Virginia University, and was awestruck by motivational leaders who helped her develop a yearning to become a pilot.

But her ears bled.

February 23, 2017
By Monique Attar
Women share stories of hurdles and triumphs at the Women in Cyber panel at West 2017. Photo by Mike Carpenter

The energy in the room was palpable and sporadic buzzing and murmurs were heard as a panel of successful women in the cyber world on Wednesday shared tales of their challenges, opportunities, educational paths and hopes for improving the environment for future generations, seeking to make a difference. 

October 27, 2016
 
The AFCEA Alamo Chapter held a networking and team-building event with Young AFCEANsas part of its screening of The Computers, a Women in AFCEA initiative.

The story of the women who helped create the first large-scale computer to run at electronic speed often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Women in AFCEA aims to change that.

August 5, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
The first Women in STEM panel held this week at AFCEA’s TechNet Augusta address issues that keep women from pursing and staying in STEM fields. Photo by Wayland Linwood.

It’s not easy for some women to find their voices among the cacophonous male-dominated chatter of the technology world, much less getting it heard by others—especially leaders.

How should women handle the frustrating problem of posing a question during a staff meeting, only to have it fall on deaf ears—an issue made worse when she then slides a sticky note to a male peer who asks it, gets it acknowledged and earns praise for it?

July 27, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

Much attention has been focused on recent achievements by women who crack or break traditional glass ceilings. In its recent series on Women in STEM, SIGNAL has highlighted many of these achievements.

We’re keeping this momentum of women in power going—and next week in Georgia, AFCEA International will host its first Women in STEM panel at TechNet Augusta.

July 5, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

Implicit biases—such as girls aren't as good as boys in science and math—have hampered advancements in work force diversity for decades. But what does it mean when girls themselves perpetuate the damaging erroneous stereotype? What can be done to entice girls to pursue classes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) before they lose interest? Most people hold unconscious, implicit assumptions that influence their judgments and perceptions of others. People sometimes apply the biases unintentionally, which results in actions or the absence of action that can reduce the quality of the work force and create unfair and destructive environments.

July 12, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

For 10 weeks, we have addressed the issue of women in STEM and why many leave the field after working so hard to earn their college degrees. For 10 weeks, we've run features on prominent women who stuck with their careers in science, technology, engineering and math, despite some hurdles. For 10 weeks, salient points have reverberated as leaders talk about the sexual harassment, the pay gap, waning student interest and the need for mentors. But we're not done talking about it. Next month, AFCEA International hosts its first Women in STEM panel at TechNet Augusta to tackle the issue. You should join us. 

July 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Natalie Givans, senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, says businesses and other organizations must appeal to the passions of young women who are well-qualified for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs to draw them to these disciplines.

Employers today face a scarcity of qualified candidates for coveted jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM—jobs widely regarded as vital to U.S. economic and military strength. One key reason for the lack of skilled workers is gender inequities, which share as much of the blame for the dearth of diversity in these fields.

June 28, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Evetta-DiRee McGuire, a senior program manager at ManTech International Corporation, oversees a staff of more than 100 personnel providing network and communications engineering and installation support for multiple U.S. and overseas U.S. Army field sites.

Delaying the introduction of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly referred to as STEM, in elementary and middle schools has contributed to the plight of a hamstrung computer-savvy work force. Simultaneously, the national debate over unemployment and who will fill the surplus of coveted jobs in the future continues to grow. About 15 years ago, a focus on STEM didn't occur until many students reached high school or older.

June 21, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
A high school student explains her team's hovercraft project to Rear Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, while Norton visits the Engineering and Aerospace Sciences Academy (EASA) in McMinnville, Oregon.

There is a noticeable distinction between women in STEM in the military and women in STEM in the civilian world, says Rear. Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director of warfare integration and deputy director for Navy cybersecurity. For a while, jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics were just about all that were open to women seeking a career in the armed forces. Times have changed, and the U.S.

June 14, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Beth Beck, l, the open innovation program manager in NASA’s Office of the Chief Information, discusses the agency’s Space Apps Challenge 2016, a global hackathon.

Give women wings, and they will soar, says one leader working hard to launch a new crop of budding scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians toward a new frontier. SIGNAL Media and AFCEA International’s Women in AFCEA tackle a multi-month project to highlight women in STEM.

June 7, 2016
By Julianne Simpson
Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, commander, U.S. Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, always knew a career in STEM was meant for her.

It is said that leaders aren’t born, they’re made—and Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski embodies the notion. Motivated early on by her strong and determined mother, and then tested in her pursuit to prevail at a male-dominated career in a male-dominated world, she inspires today’s young women seeking to become the next generation of scientists, technology experts, engineers and mathematicians. SIGNAL Media and AFCEA International’s Women in AFCEA address the issue in a multi-month project to highlight women in STEM. 

May 31, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Former Lockheed Martin executive Linda Gooden has a passion for education, technology and, well, fast cars—such as her current Cadillac CTS-V with 640 horsepower that can go 200 mph.

The foundation to build the next generation of scientists, technology experts, engineers and mathematicians must be set in elementary school, particularly if the nation is going to include women in its pool of qualified STEM candidates. The United States trails other industrialized nations in education, particularly in math and science. One set of results ranked the United States 35th out of 64 countries in math and 27th in science. SIGNAL Media and AFCEA International’s Women in AFCEA address the issue in a multi-month project to highlight women in STEM.

May 24, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Then-Brig. Gen. Sandra Finan, USAF, is honored at the National Nuclear Security Administration in 2013.

Keen focus in early years of students' education will help increase the popularity of participation in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, better known as STEM—particularly among girls. Leaders must color those disciplines as creative, relevant and fun, for it is diversifying the work force that will help agencies and companies better reflect those they serve. SIGNAL Media and AFCEA International’s Women in AFCEA address the issue in a multi-month project to highlight women in STEM.

May 17, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

SIGNAL Media continues with its multi-month project to highlight women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, most commonly referred to as STEM. Today, we highlight the importance of appealing to the passions of the high-tech work force that seeks to make global differences; the positive impact of networking; and addressing the issue of equal pay and acknowledgement.

May 10, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

SIGNAL Media today launches a multi-month project to highlight women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, most commonly referred to as STEM.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 1984, women earned 37 percent of college degrees in STEM fields. Fast-forward 26 years, the number had dropped to just 12 percent. SIGNAL and AFCEA International’s Women in AFCEA seek to learn why. 

July 1, 2016
By Maryann Lawlor
Engineering always fascinated Mylene Frances Lee, a technical team lead at ASM Research. After trying a couple of other fields, she landed a job in technology 21 years ago and has watched the woman-led company go from 40 employees to more than 400.

For some women, following the dream of a computer-programming career takes a pretty indirect route. Consider Mylene Frances Lee, who landed at ASM Research despite earning a seemingly unrelated degree in family life and child development. But maybe that is not such a bad background for someone who ended up working with a bunch of screen junkies.

Lee considered many careers. A native of the Philippines, she always was interested in computers. But when the time came to choose a major, she discovered that the University of the Philippines’ engineering college, although open to all, was entirely male. Instead, she decided to major in accounting.