March is the month designated as Women’s History Month – a time to remember and appreciate the lives and actions of women across history. As the month wraps up, Tapestry’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council is pleased to share some stories of incredible women who have broken barriers and made significant accomplishment in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries.
While some of these accomplishments are well known, more are coming to light each day. One such story involves three American African female mathematicians who helped NASA win the Space Race during the Cold War era. They were relatively unknown until the movie “Hidden Figures” was widely released last year.
The movie tells the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who were part of NASA’s team of human “computers.” These math wizards helped space heroes like Neil Armstrong and John Glenn travel safely through space. Although they broke through barriers in a white male-dominated profession, the women were told their dreams were not valid because of the color of their skin, reported the Guardian.
There are numerous examples like this that deserve recognition, especially women pioneers in the STEM / Aerospace & Defense fields – whose contributions have helped propel companies in our industry to huge success. Here are a few of their stories, as told on the National Women’s Hall of Fame website.
- Beatrice A. Hicks – Engineer, inventor and business owner, Hicks was a pioneer in gaining recognition for women engineers at a time when less than 1 percent of all U.S. employed engineers were women. She was a founding member and first president of the Society of Women Engineers (1950), which now has a membership of more than 16,000.
- Grace Hopper – A mathematics genius and computer pioneer, Hopper created computer programming technology that forever changed the flow of information and paved the way for modern data processing. In 1952, Hopper was credited with creating the first compiler for modern computers, a program that translates instructions written by a programmer into codes that can be read by a computer. Hopper was the first woman to hold the rank of Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
- Emily Howell Warner – In 1973, Emily Warner became the first American female commercial airline pilot when Frontier Airlines broke the barrier against hiring women pilots. She later became the nation’s first woman airline captain, also at Frontier Airlines.
- Sheila E. Widnall – Appointed Secretary of the Air Force in 1993 by President Clinton, Widnall became the first woman to hold the position. A world-renowned scientist, she holds three patents in airflow technology. As a current member of MIT faculty, she is internationally known for her work in fluid dynamics, specifically in the areas of aircraft turbulence and the spiraling air flows, called vortices, created by helicopters.
Everyone knows women who serve as role models and are making differences to their industry, community and families. Working in collaboration with our parent company, Boeing, Tapestry’s D&I Council celebrates this diversity among all employees – focusing on women’s contributions during March – to form a stronger work environment in which we can all make a difference.
About Tapestry Diversity & Inclusion Council
Tapestry’s D&I Council works to promote unity among our diverse workforce to drive innovation and keep the company ahead of the competition. Its goal is to ensure employees feel uniquely valued and experience a sense of belonging, engagement and connection to the company’s values.