The Brooke Owens Fellowship was created to specifically address one element of diversity and inclusion: gender equity in the aerospace industry. Women are dramatically under-represented in the aerospace industry. In the United States alone, women make up 50.8% of the US population but only 24.0% of American aerospace and defense workers identify as female according to a 2018 report conducted by Aviation Week and Space Technology, the Aerospace Industries Association, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Furthermore, many of those women work in relatively lower-earning jobs, often outside of the technical workforce: for example, the same study found that only 13.5% of engineering executives are women. The situation is likely even starker for non-binary individuals and other under-represented genders—but no reliable workforce statistics appear to be available to quantify their representation.

Although our primary focus of our program is addressing the gender gap in the aerospace community, it is vitally important to note that gender is not the only form of diversity in which the aerospace industry needs to improve. Additionally, we know that not all women have the same experience, and that the challenges faced by one woman may be quite different from those faced by a woman of a different ethnicity, socio-economic status, or any of dozens of other metrics. Having directly observed the incredible value that comes from building a diverse and inclusive workforce—and the loss of that value in overly homogenous working environments—we believe that both our own program and the aerospace workforce as a whole are best served by welcoming all, and by actively studying and improving upon the way we recruit, retain, train, and promote human beings from all backgrounds.

As our applicant pool and our Fellows illustrated beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is a large number of enormously talented, passionate, and creative humans who are interested in entering the aerospace workforce today, yet who are dramatically underrepresented in the field. These individuals possess bountiful leadership skills and admirable work ethic, along with a relentless drive to contribute to our commercial industry, our civil aerospace programs, and our national security community. We are honored to serve these extraordinary new entrants into the aerospace community by providing them with paid work experience, executive level mentorship, and a network of supportive allies and colleagues to serve as boost on their road to success.