Women of Aviation Worldwide Week (WOAW) is a global aviation awareness week for females across the globe. Originally marking the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot license on March 8, 1910, the week is a call to address the gender imbalance in the air and space industries.
This week we will be featuring remarkable aviation professionals from across the ACR Group of companies that make us succeed daily. We would like to thank every woman in the ACR Group for their ongoing support, and #ChooseToChallenge the status quo.
Here is a highlight on one of our talented team members from NAL Research.
What is your current role at NAL Research?
I am a Junior Software Engineer at NAL Research.
What brought you to work in aviation?
I have always been in love with the possibilities of outer space. Unfortunately, I have very poor eyesight so I could never be an astronaut. So now, I build communication equipment. I found NAL when they were tabling at a career fair on campus. They were one of four tables that had the word “satellite” on their poster.
How long have you been part of the NAL Research team?
What do you find rewarding about your work?
Taking the time to build simple solutions to complex problems. It’s incredibly rewarding to build practical and functional technology which serves a clear purpose and advances the industry.
What do you enjoy and find challenging about working in aviation?
I enjoy working at the intersections of many different fields of engineering and with engineers of diverse backgrounds and specializations. I think this is enjoyable and challenging at the same time.
What has been the most challenging obstacle in your career journey? How did you overcome this obstacle?
What advice would you give to your 15-year old self?
Put yourself out there and find projects you are passionate about to work on because grades aren’t the best motivator. You don’t know how much you are worth yet.
Why is gender diversity within the industry important to you?
I think gender, racial, ethnic, and disability diversity are important to any industry and to any workplace. I think we are at a critical moment where we need to pay attention to the implicit biases which are produced in technology when development teams are not diverse. In 2019 Caroline Perez investigated biases across various industries in her book Invisible Women. For example, she reports on the auto industry’s lack of diversity in their crash test dummies, leading women to be more likely to suffer serious injuries in car crashes. I think there is a need for more consideration of our diverse users’ needs and the environmental impact of our technology. As developers of fundamental infrastructure, we have to be aware of the ramifications of our decisions and blind spots and of our influence on society.
What would you tell young females interested in joining the industry?
Stay true to yourself. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you have to give up your personal interests or hobbies. There were so many skills I didn’t even realize I had, that I didn’t even put on my resume, which I am putting to use. Cultivating the different aspects of yourself outside of work will make you a stronger contributor to your team and will help you keep your perspective fresh.
Do you have a mentor or idol in aviation?
As far as mentorship goes I want to acknowledge my undergraduate advisor Dr. Nathalia Peixoto, she was an incredible resource that I definitely could and should have utilized better while I was a student. From history, I want to start with the first Arab and African woman to earn a pilot’s license, Lotfia El Nadi. Hedy Lamarr, an actress, mathematician, and inventor. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, Black mathematicians and engineers at NASA who made essential contributions to the first manned space launch and were among the countless female human computers in history. Issam Nemer, an engineer who worked on the Apollo 11 launch. And, of course, the first woman in space, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. I also want to acknowledge some of the incredible people I follow on Twitter. NASA Chief of Exploration Mission Planning Nujoud Merancy, NASA engineer Loay Elbasyouni, astrophysicist Sarafina Nance, astrobiologist Monica Vidaurri, and space archaeologist Alice Gorman who recently conducted the first archaeological experiment in space.
What are some valuable life lessons you have learned while working in aviation?
As I mentioned before, there were so many skills that I had that I didn’t even know I had, it’s been really great to find ways to apply my personal and extracurricular experiences to my role. I’ve also learned the importance of being able to pick up new skills and get started on things even if you don’t feel confident in your ability. I’ve also been learning lessons about time management, balance, and boundaries.
To learn more about Women of Aviation Week, please visit https://womenofaviationweek.iwoaw.org/