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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Guest letter: Now is a great time for women to join STEM fields


    Raytheon Missile Systems Vice President Laura McGill.

    One of the educators participating in our Teachers in Industry summer intern program recently asked me how he could help more of his female students realize they would make great engineers.

    I told him there’s never been a better time for women to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, particularly engineering. The future is especially bright because STEM professionals will be in demand for the next several decades. The work is exciting and interesting in jobs that generally pay much higher than non-STEM jobs. Whether working in a regular office setting, laboratory or in the field (according to their preference), women are treated equal to their male counterparts with the same career and pay opportunities. Since there is such a dearth of technical talent, companies are also working hard to provide benefits that make them attractive to all potential candidates.

    I became interested in Aerospace Engineering as I was growing up because it seemed that aerospace was where the most leading-edge technology was being developed. Whether it was making airplanes fly farther and faster, exploring the solar system, or improving the daily lives of citizens (through GPS navigation as just one example), I wanted to be part of it. I’ve never regretted that decision and I feel blessed to work at a job that I enjoy. It’s a job where I get to work on systems that push the envelope of capability and are critically important to our country. I also work with some of the greatest technical talent in the world and I learn something new from my colleagues every day.

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    At Raytheon Company, we’re doing our part to inspire interest in STEM in the next generation of girls through key initiatives such as the following:

  • MathMovesU®, which involves working with students from elementary school through college, supporting educators and policymakers and promoting racial and gender equality within STEM fields.
  • Imagine Your STEM Future, a Raytheon-sponsored program at Desert View High School that pairs girls with experts in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Teachers in Industry program, which provides educators with paid summer industry work experience at Raytheon and other businesses across Arizona. The aim of the program is for the educators to describe to their students how math and science are applied to solve real-world problems.
  • Applied Career Exploration in Science (ACES), formerly called MISS Adventures. ACES is an outreach program for middle school girls run by Raytheon female engineers.
  • These programs have produced many successes, and Lilly Crain’s experience is a good example. Lilly became involved in Raytheon’s MISS Adventures program when she was in middle school. She said, “MISS Adventures opened my eyes so I could see more of what girls can do. I am a hands-on person and I like brainteasers and puzzles, and through MISS Adventures, I became very interested in mechanical engineering. It’s all I wanted to do from the seventh grade onward.”

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    Lilly followed her passion and graduated from the University of Arizona in 2016 with a degree in mechanical engineering. She has recently celebrated her one year anniversary with Raytheon where she works as a manufacturing engineer. Her advice to other young women? “Go for it! It might seem hard at first, but keep pushing and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

    Through Lilly’s example, and those of countless other young women, I hope you can see that there’s never been a better time to be a woman in a high-tech industry. Exciting and meaningful work, together with career flexibility, make this the best of times to be a female in a technical field. 

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