March is National Women’s History Month. Each year, The National Women’s History Project takes suggestions from supporters to develop a theme for the year’s events. After reviewing more than 100 submissions, this year, the organization selected the theme of:
Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination:
Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Throughout the month of March, we are highlighting the contributions of some of our women working in technology fields, and getting their viewpoints on what National Women’s History Month means to them. This week, we are highlighting Erica Andren, Program Manager in our Information Technology and Cybersecurity Solutions business. Erica develops IT and cybersecurity training courses which are available to all BAE Systems employees through our company’s Intelligence and Security University.
- What led you to pursue a STEM career?
I credit excellent teachers for inspiring me to pursue a STEM career. In fourth grade, I had a teacher that sparked my interest in the Earth sciences. My interest in science continued into high school, thanks to a motivating calculus/physics teacher. I also have to credit my parents for pushing me to take the most advanced math classes available in junior high. My dad spent countless (torturous!) hours tutoring me. Along the way, he also introduced me to astronomy, cosmology and theoretical physics.
In college, I found myself deciding between three different degrees, to include: political science, psychology and physics. Since I knew I would have a job as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force after graduation no matter which degree I picked, I chose to pursue the subject I was most passionate about. My fascination with physics, astronomy and cosmology led me to focus my undergrad in astrophysics.
- Are there any women who inspired you along your career path? If so, who are they, and how did they inspire you?
My fourth grade teacher, my high school calculus/physics teacher, and my college advisor were all women who played pivotal roles in my career choices. I’m also inspired by the historic contributions of women like Marie Curie and astronaut pioneers like Christa McAuliffe, Sally Ride and Eileen Collins. Each of these women found success in their respective careers. It’s also inspiring to see how each of them chose professions they clearly loved.
- Are there any female leaders in STEM that you look up to today?
Though she may not be considered a traditional STEM leader, I consider Melissa Hathaway to be a fascinating and highly successful forerunner in the cybersecurity community. She has inspired me with her quick rise in government circles, her grasp of the complexities and interrelated nature of cybersecurity, and her ability to motivate diverse teams to produce seminal documents that will shape countless cyber careers and policies for years to come.
- What does National Women’s History Month mean to you?
I haven’t celebrated National Women’s History Month before, so this is a new opportunity for me to reflect on my influences and choices, as they relate to both those who came before me and those who are following in our footsteps.
- How do you hope to make “history” in your career?
I will continue to bloom where I’m planted – that philosophy has opened opportunities that I never anticipated (but thoroughly enjoyed) in my career, and provided me the poise to succeed in situations that inevitably didn’t go as planned.
The U.S. Government first recognized March as National Women’s History Month in 1987. For more on the history of the declaration, and to celebrate the many contributions women have made throughout history, visit http://womenshistorymonth.gov/.