Women's History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and I encourage everyone to celebrate this year’s theme “Women’s Education ­– Women’s Empowerment” by recognizing the many accomplishments of women at NASA and throughout history.

It’s been my pleasure this year as part of NASA’s celebrations to kick off a new round of video interviews at http://women.nasa.gov on the popular Women@NASA website. It showcases women from diverse backgrounds with careers at NASA, telling their stories in their own words. Featured women include astronauts, engineers, scientists and administrators. They discuss their accomplishments and offer encouragement to women and girls considering technical careers to become the trailblazers of tomorrow. The website also provides information about NASA internships and career opportunities.

I also was able to participate in an important day-long conversation at George Washington University about the critical role that women play in innovation at NASA, and how we can increase our numbers and impact throughout government and the aerospace industry. I am proud of the fact that NASA is one of the largest federal employers of women in the STEM fields.

However, much work remains to be done.

While the percentage of women in the engineering field at NASA has increased substantially over the past ten years, they still only comprise 20 percent of our engineering workforce and 22 percent of our AST (science and technology) workforce. I am so proud of the outstanding achievements of our workforce, and I commend you on your efforts to promote means by which we can have NASA be as diverse in gender, ethnicity, and background as this great country of ours. A diverse workforce will create a wide variety of ideas, pushing forward innovation and making NASA better than ever. Equal representation of women in the key science, technology, engineering, and math fields will be critical to developing tomorrow’s exploration leaders.

One of our top priorities in education is to encourage women and girls to follow STEM career paths, and that’s one reason we’re so proud NASA is represented on the White House Council for Women and Girls. As part of our involvement with the Council, the Women@NASA website was created as a personal testament to the strength and hard work that so many women have poured into NASA, and to show girls everywhere that women have come from diverse backgrounds and overcome many obstacles to achieve rewarding careers.

As NASA and some other government agencies update their workplace flexibility policies for the 21st century, we will keep women’s needs strongly in mind. There is still a long way to go for women to achieve full parity in the workplace, but in the NASA Family, equality, diversity, and innovation are greatly valued and we will continue to make progress.

Please join me in celebrating Women’s History Month by uncovering and sharing the stories of the women in your life.