The aeronautical and aerospace engineering sector has been, since long ago, an area of the industry traditionally dominated by men. However, the presence of women has become vital to its development and advancement. In the wake of Elsie MacGill, the world’s first female aeronautical engineer, women have played a crucial role in the history of aerospace engineering.
However, the gender gap in the aeronautical engineering sector still persists. For example, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, only 3% of pilots worldwide are women and only 16% of aviation workers are women. It is therefore necessary to recognize the need to increase the presence and therefore the talent of female professionals (engineers, technicians, operators, managers…) in the aerospace engineering sector and to support their inclusion in this crucial industry.
Thus, on International Women’s Day, which we celebrate this March 8, it is important to reflect on the work and achievements of women in aerospace engineering and continue working together to ensure a more equal and inclusive future for all people in this field. In this sense, from M&M Group we want to mention 8 women who have stood out in the industry for their recognized talent. 8 reasons why the aerospace engineering sector has to continue betting on present and future professionals.
1. Isabel Maestre Moreno: Spanish aeronautical engineer who has worked in the aerospace industry for more than 30 years. She was the first woman to be appointed Director General of a European Space Agency (ESA) technology center and is currently the Director of Operations and Services at the Center for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) in Spain.
2. Nuria Oliver: Spanish telecommunications engineer and data scientist who has worked in the design of artificial intelligence systems and the development of technologies for aviation. She has worked for companies such as Microsoft and Telefónica, and is currently the scientific director of Data and AI at the Vodafone Foundation. She has also been recognized with several awards for her work in technology and has been included in the list of the 100 most influential women in Spain.
3. Mary G. Ross: American aerospace engineer and one of the first Native American women to graduate in engineering. She worked on rocket and missile design for NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense.
4. Gwynne Shotwell: aerospace engineer and president and COO of SpaceX, a private space transportation company founded by Elon Musk. She has been instrumental in the company’s design and launch of rockets and spacecraft.
5. Beatrice Shilling: British aeronautical engineer who worked on aircraft engine design during World War II. She invented a device to prevent aircraft engines from choking in sharp dives, which helped pilots maintain control of their aircraft in dangerous situations.
6. Lillian Gilbreth: American industrial engineer and psychologist known for her contributions to ergonomics and industrial psychology. She worked on job design in the aerospace industry during World War II and was the first woman to be elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.
7. Mary Jackson: African-American aeronautical engineer who worked at NASA during the space age. She was one of the first black women to graduate in engineering and helped pave the way for other women and people of color in the aerospace industry.
8. Barbara Krug: She is a German aeronautical engineer who has worked at Airbus since 1993. Krug has held several important positions at the company, including head of systems engineering for the A380 and head of systems engineering for the A350 family, programs in which M&M Group has been involved and participates, respectively. In addition, Krug has been an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the aviation industry and has led several projects at Airbus to promote these values.