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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023
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Getting an Insider’s Look at Engineering

In the United States, engineering is a male-dominated field, with roughly 1 in 8 of the workforce women. The Society of Women Engineers said that when women leave the field, 30% of those cite organizational climate as the reason.

With that in mind, San Diego companies make recruitment and retention a priority. Many provide resource groups for women employees. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) reports a workforce that is 26.6% female. Citing research from Equileap, it said it is one of the most gender-balanced companies on the S&P 500 stock index. Northrop Grumman and its peers work to increase the number of women going into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by generating interest early. Real early.

Building Bridges … and Airplanes

Collins Aerospace has made it a point to cultivate interest among people ages 5 to 16 in underrepresented communities. The corporation — whose Chula Vista office oversees a business producing and sustaining jet engine nacelles — held its 20th annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at 55 of its sites on Feb. 25. Nastasja Terry was the Chula Vista-based engineer who worked with a group of middle school girls.

Roughly 30 girls participated in the local event, which was virtual this year. Activities included working with engineers to build paper airplanes and bridges from common household items. There were plenty of presentations, with talk about what engineers do and preparation for such a career. Collins has found that 38% of girls going into its one-day program would consider a career in engineering. After the day is over, the number grows to 83%

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“Young girls need role models, to see people like them,” Terry said on a Tuesday following the event. She was wearing a T-shirt that said “STEMinist.” Terry grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood and became acquainted with her employer in Illinois. She credits some of her interest in math and science to her mother, who introduced her to the concept of percentages when she was 6 years old. STEM has all sorts of benefits, Terry said. Learning mathematics instills discipline, and the perseverance it takes to calculate out a problem spills over into other aspects of a young person’s life.

STEM has many other proponents. Company parent Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX) partners with a group called Girls Who Code. Companies outside Raytheon’s orbit also emphasize education. In the fall, for example, representatives of Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE: BAH) and Sentek Global helped 55 San Diego Girl Scouts earn badges in cybersecurity.

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