Women’s History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the fearless women of the past and those making incredible impacts today in aerospace and beyond. It’s also a time to reflect on our own workplace to ensure we are building a culture of inclusion that drives a sense of community and innovation. As part of an internal Redwire initiative meant to support diversity, inclusion, and representation, March was a great time to highlight the contributions of women across the industry, elevate voices within our workplace, and explore issues that affect us all.
Looking Back + Celebrating Women Winning at Redwire
Women’s History Month was an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of historical figures who broke down boundaries and made strides within their field. Without the accomplishments of so many bold women, the aerospace industry wouldn’t be where it is today.
Let's build a plane 🛩️
Emma Lilian Todd, a self-taught inventor, was declared the first woman airplane designer by the @NYTimes in 1909. Unable to fly her own plane, her aircraft was successfully flown by test-pilot Didier Masson. #WomensHistoryMonth (📸: @librarycongress) pic.twitter.com/iQuC4bU3sN
— Redwire Space (@RedwireSpace) March 27, 2022
This month, we also wanted to spotlight women who are making an impact across Redwire. Our colleagues shared their career paths, roles at Redwire, and what inclusivity means to them. From engineers to business development leaders, these women are making an impact every day.
Sarah Reichert is a Quality Manager at Redwire’s Goleta, California, facility. Sarah has worked on projects like the iROSA and OVZON solar arrays, and has a tip for students and women in the industry: “focus on yourself.” Watch Sarah’s story:
Jennifer Ruliffson is a Redwire Materials Scientist who works on microgravity enabled materials programs. As someone who didn’t begin her career in the aerospace industry, she knows firsthand the importance of forging your own path. For Jenn, celebrating history month isn’t reserved for March; she explores women’s careers and women scientists all year-round.
“When I graduated high school, I really wanted to study planetary science. But I thought I wasn’t smart enough to study the required math, so my first degree is in music. After a full career, I finally took Elon Musk’s advice, ‘When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.’ I decided to get a degree in Chemistry and Physics and work in space exploration even if I had to take a long time to do it.”
Juli Lawless is Redwire’s Vice President of National Security Space. As a member of Redwire’s Corporate Business Development team, Juli works with customers like the Space Force, Air Force Research labs, and other industry partners to help them solve critical capability gaps, “old space” pain points, and helps to ensure US Space Superiority in an increasingly contested warfighting domain.
“Being a woman in STEM, and especially in an Aerospace Defense focused career, generically means that I don’t look like, sound like, or have the same background as many of my colleagues. It has not been an easy path, and it continues to present challenges every single day. But after many years, I have come to the realization that being different isn’t a limitation; and being the one who brings a new perspective to the table can be very advantageous. My mom instilled in me that no matter what, it is important to continue to push forward. I do it to honor those that came before me and enabled me to get this far, and I do it for those that come after me who hopefully have even more amazing opportunities.”
Aurelie Bressollette is Redwire Europe’s Head of Programs. She works with a dynamic team of engineers on the STAARK space robotic arm. In her role, she also oversees procurement activities and help the team develop better relationships with carefully selected partners. Aurelie was inspired by her parents when it came to her career choice and has always been in awe of human space exploration.
What does inclusivity mean to Aurelie? “Inclusivity means always being open to even the things that at first bother you. It means going further than your first impression…and to question your own bias. Only that can lead to being inclusive of people who at first do not seem to ‘belong to your tribe.’ And one can learn so much in that process. It’s clearly not an easy thing to do, but that’s the only way for us to survive as a society that respects every individual.”
Kari Abromitis is a Business Development Manager for Redwire Engineering Solutions. She works with the business development team to secure contracts for civil and commercial space products and services.
Kari didn’t always imagine herself in the aerospace industry. “I did not specifically target the space industry for a career, but I have found a lot of support and open-minded individuals in this industry. Our work requires challenging assumptions to imagine and build new realities. This cultural mindset, I have found, is generally conducive to accepting diverse people in the workplace.”
Serket Quintanar Guzmán is Lead Electronics Engineer at Redwire. Serket and her team design, test and qualify electronics and electromechanics subsystems for space robotics applications. For Serket, Women’s History Month is an opportunity to recognize the successful women in history, which encourages young women to achieve incredible things.
“My career is not a common choice among women. I think commemorating and celebrating successful women throughout history will encourage more women to follow their dreams and not feel afraid of choosing careers that society has traditionally assigned to men.”
Supporting STEM Education to Empower Future Generations
Mentorship can be a critical resource for inspiring young women to follow their dreams and succeed in their field. To celebrate Women’s History Month, Redwire partnered with Illana Raia, author of The Epic Mentor Guide to donate 100 of her recently released books to The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, a school committed to instilling leadership skills in its students. Redwire also donated 100 books to a STEM organization with a track record of equipping young women with skills needed to succeed in STEM fields: Black Girls Code.
Fun fact: Redwire’s Senior Manager of Brand Strategy, Tere Riley, is featured as one of the mentors in the book.
Inclusivity and diversity are critical to the innovative Redwire community. Throughout the year, Redwire will continue to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment by celebrating our team’s unique heritage and experiences, while also exploring how the aerospace industry can make an impact. We invite you to explore how you can celebrate the women in your life, those who have inspired you, and those making a difference in your community.