STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Linda Mills (Northrop Grumman)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on August 21, 2012
Ms. Mills directs a $7.9 billion global provider of advanced technology solutions for defense, intelligence, civil agency and commercial customers at Northrop Grumman. With math and computer science degrees, she is the first woman at Northrop Grumman reporting to the CEO running a major business and strongly advocates for STEM. Among numerous honors she received the 2009 Woman of the Year Award from the Boy Scouts for increasing the number of young people entering STEM fields; and the 2011 Women in Technology Leadership Award for developing the future generation of leaders in STEM and cybersecurity.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
Our Nation’s security and our economic prosperity depend on a highly educated work force with advanced skills in STEM. The shortage of STEM professionals in our country is a major contributor to our sagging innovation and competiveness. I head a large technology organization that is the leading provider of complex technology and cybersecurity systems to the U.S. government. We are directly impacted by the shortage of STEM-trained employees who can secure the nation from cybersecurity and other national threats or priorities, such as health IT.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
We must make this a priority in our public speaking, the organizations we support and in our actions to increase awareness and interest in STEM. It is critical that our youth see STEM as an exciting, fulfilling career to which they can aspire and excel, particularly women and minorities. This year my organization donated $1 million to the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement, which focuses on improving science teaching and student learning at high-need elementary schools. And, we employ several hundred high school and college interns each year to provide first-hand experience.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
Fundamentally, by starting in elementary and middle school to increase the pool of young women interested in STEM, and offering programs that show young women how STEM can be fun and cool, and eventually lead to a great career. For those that elect STEM majors in college, we must work to ensure they graduate and pursue STEM careers. Once STEM-trained women join the professional ranks, it’s up to the companies and organizations in the workplace – and in their self-interest - to provide mentoring and leadership training targeted to women in technical fields. Women in leadership roles must be visible to young people and proactive in helping cultivate female technical professionals with leadership potential.
For just those reasons, I’m on the CyberPatriot Board, aimed at high school students and the Engineering School Board of Visitors for the University of Illinois. I’m a frequent presenter at company events for future and current women leaders; and speak externally to the Girl Scouts, Society of Women Engineers, the Black Engineer of the Year conference and other events. Recently, I was delighted to present awards to students on the winning teams for CyberPatriot IV (see below).
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
By supporting creative ways to excite our nation’s youth about careers in STEM. Last year approximately 50% of our corporate charitable giving, which totaled about $28.2M, was directed towards K-12 education. We support Sally Ride Science Festivals for girls; Cool Careers For Girls in Cybersecurity; the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Early Childhood STEM Learning Through the Arts program aimed at grammar school children; and Engineer Girl!
My organization is the premier sponsor of the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program, the nation’s largest and fastest growing high school cybersecurity competition, designed to excite and motivate young people to pursue careers in cybersecurity and STEM.