Naveego's CEO Katie Horvath moderated a panel of Entrepreneurial Women in Space at the Michigan Space Forum on May 31, delving into gender issues faced by women in the space industry. Accomplished space entrepreneur panelists included Barbara Plante - President of Boreal, Charlie McGillis - Executive Director of Slingshot Aerospace, Cynthia Bouthot -President of SCM and Ellen Chang – Co-Founder of Lightspeed Innovations.
Left to right, Katie Horvath, Barbara Plante, Cynthia Bouthot, Ellen Chang and Charlie McGillis
Women are still a diversity hire in most STEM-related fields. The panel revealed that in addition to climbing corporate ladders to become leaders in the space industry, they endured gender discrimination and bias on their rise to the top.
As entrepreneurs in start-up private sector aerospace companies, Bouthot shared how it was much more difficult for female entrepreneurs to pitch to Venture Capitalists. Chang stated that investors can help improve diversity by intentionally investing in women led companies.
There is a need to bring in change and inclusivity in many hi-tech careers for women and other minorities. Positive role models are often extremely helpful when it comes to breaking down the invisible walls set up in society. The panelists shared changes that the are making to their workplace environments, now that they are in positions of leadership. These trail blazers work to encourage women to pursue STEM education opportunities and careers. McGillis mentors young women through a golf STEM program, building student confidence in traditionally male dominated areas including the golf course and the space industry. Plante offered advice to women entering STEM careers, relaying that she was blissfully ignorant of gender issues when starting her own career. The collective hope is that the next female generation is elevated beyond harassment and hostile work environments experienced by women in male dominated fields in the past.
We at Naveego value a diverse and inclusive workplace that brings out the best products and services, and also heightens the potential of all of our employees. Horvath stated, “We don’t let politics or ego get in the way of great ideas. In fact, having different view points, experiences and backgrounds on our team adds to our creativity, enhances our problem solving skills, and elevates our innovation.”
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