Help #ShapetheWorld on International Women in Engineering Day

Why BAE Systems is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment
Lisa Aucoin Screen

Lisa Aucoin

There is something so wonderfully satisfying and fun about engineering technology that helps to solve a problem, especially when it makes a significant impact to #ShapetheWorld. It’s an important experience that I want more young people to have, especially girls who have the impression that engineering is boring, or too hard for them.

On June 23, International Women in Engineering Day, I want to share good news, in line with this year’s theme, of how my organization is “helping make our planet a better, safer, more innovative and exciting place to be.”

BAE Systems is now a sponsor of Girls Who Code – a nonprofit organization building the world’s largest pipeline of future female engineers. Their new at-home program for girls ages 8-18 provides free and educational computer science activities online that are designed to help girls have fun, build connections, and positively impact their community.

Just as our engineers use innovation to solve problems every day in our offices, our community investment efforts look to inspire students to use innovation to solve issues in our communities. Students who participate in Girls Who Code use computer science to address a problem in their school, their community, or the world.

Girls Who Code at Home is particularly important during this challenging time when many youth are out of school. It is essential to continue to provide girls access to STEM experiences and programming to continue the incredibly important work to close the gender gap in tech.

In the Electronic Systems sector at BAE Systems, I have the privilege of leading a team of engineers who innovate capabilities that help our customers to make our world a cleaner, safer place. They inspire me in what they are able to achieve together to address challenges across a wide range of domains, from acoustic sensors that detect undersea threats, to zero-emission vehicle propulsion, to electronic countermeasures that deflect missiles from military aircraft.

As you can imagine, this work is heavily collaborative at every stage, from figuring how to create a prototype technology that proves what is scientifically possible, to designing, manufacturing and sustaining it in rapid, cost-effective ways.

This is why our organization is so committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment where cross-team perspectives are considered. We know that to arrive at the best solutions, we need multiple, varied viewpoints throughout the process of getting to it.

Here’s the challenge: Women constitute just 25% of the STEM industry. We see significant opportunity for us to grow our perspectives. We also see a clear path to realize it.

Girls need role models, especially mentors and teachers, who can encourage them to seek out others who share that curiosity, and show them the path to opportunities.

I was fortunate to have that as a young girl working with my father at his print shop in Pittsburgh, Pa. This set me up to be interested in mechanical things and how they worked. Coming from a working family gave me practical experience in solving problems with technology.

I actually had a grand thought to be a nuclear physicist, and my parents and other influential people in my life supported me in my dreams. That backing was so important as I faced challenges, or came across anyone who doubted my ability because I was a woman.

I often think about the people who helped nurture my love for science, technology, engineering, and math. They helped me see my value and made me more resilient. They also remind me how important it is to be a mentor supporter for someone else.

What better way to help make the world a more innovative place, than empowering girls with a love of curiosity in STEM subjects and problem solving that will benefit themselves and others? I’m looking forward to hearing what they accomplish though their experience with Girls Who Code at Home!

Lisa Aucoin is vice president of engineering for BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems sector, where she leads more than 5,500 engineers and technical support staff focused on engineering products and services for its five business areas.

Categories: Opinion, Technology