As the number of jobs in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) continues to rise, women are vastly underrepresented, as stated in the CQ Researcher article, “The STEM Gender Gap.” In fact, according to Million Women Mentors, while women constitute approximately half of the labor market in the U.S., they represent only about a quarter of the STEAM workforce.
At Viasat, we understand the value of diversity to empower our employees and fuel innovation, which is why we’re committed to hiring and developing women in STEAM fields. One of the ways we demonstrate this commitment is by sponsoring, supporting and participating in conferences and events geared toward encouraging, connecting and inspiring women in STEAM.
As part of this strategy for building a strong community of future female employees, we also invite current employees to attend these events, to share their experiences and encourage others to join the Viasat team. Over the past several months, Viasat engineering and tech employees across the U.S. collaborated with colleagues on our People & Culture team to attend the Tufts Women in Tech conference, 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration and Society of Women in Engineering WE19 conference.
“While many other organizations attend and sponsor these conferences, here at Viasat, we take it a step further. As part of our efforts to attract future Viasat talent, we bring employees from other areas of the company to these events, too,” said Ashley Gosselin, University Recruitment Lead. “While they are there for professional development and to learn, connect and network with others in their field, they also spend time interviewing potential Viasat team members, sharing their experiences, insight and expertise.”
A plus for candidates and employees
These efforts are paying off for current and future Viasat employees. Current Viasat tech and engineering employees are attending professional development sessions, gaining leadership skills and learning about the latest trends and advances in engineering and technology. Future team members have the opportunity to meet and interview with people already working in the STEAM field. And they get real-life perspectives on careers, work-life balance and the professional development opportunities for women at Viasat.
Viasat systems engineer Denise Tung attended the WE19 conference, along with more than 16,000 others (mainly women). While she had the opportunity to learn and network, she also spent time taking shifts at the career booth, interviewing and answering questions from women interested in engineering jobs and internships with Viasat.
“It was amazing to be around so many like-minded women from all walks of life — those beginning their careers, to retirees, to trailblazers who paved the way for everyone else,” Tung said. “I was also impressed by the young women I met while at the career booth. As someone mid-career, it was really inspiring to see the interest in Viasat and engineering as a whole.”
Recent college graduate and Viasat software engineer Redgy Canos echoed these sentiments and more after attending the Grace Hopper conference in November. While she found the entire experience inspiring, what struck Redgy most was the opportunity to be there for other young women.
“I’ve been working for Viasat for about a year-and-a-half and I think it’s important to show other young women in STEAM that they can achieve their goals,” Canos said. “I want to be an inspiration for others and love sharing what makes Viasat a great place for female engineers. Viasat even provided two scholarships to female STEAM students to attend this conference.”
Men as advocates
Also attending Grace Hopper was Adam Barbato, software engineer and scrum master. It was his first time attending the conference, and he said he found it to be extremely valuable, both personally and professionally.
“Our team of eight had its first woman this year, an intern who will be starting full-time at Viasat,” Barbato said. “She brought so much to the table that I wanted to be a part of this conference and our efforts to help attract more women like her to the Viasat community.”
Attending events helped Barbato gain some valuable insight.
“Along with general educational panels, I also attended several women in STEAM panels, providing me great information on how to continue to meet the needs of women in the workplace. It was really reaffirming to know that Viasat is a company that knows how to create and maintain an inclusive environment.”
Ultimately, these efforts help encourage more women to pursue STEAM fields.
“One of our roles in People and Culture is to foster female leadership at Viasat through opportunities to pursue and develop careers in STEAM,” Gosselin said. “Having existing members of the Viasat team participate in these conferences, and in the interview process, enables us to do both. At the same time, our employees come back inspired, engaged and motivated to bring their knowledge back to other team members at Viasat, and to do even more to ensure an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.”