Whether deliberate or unconscious, gender bias makes it difficult for women to advance in their careers.
In 2021, Raytheon UK signed the UK's Women in Defence Charter, which reflects an aspiration to see women represented and succeeding at all levels across the defence industry and see a minimum of 30% female representation at all levels across the defence sector by 2030.
Raytheon UK spoke to some of the women who make up its workforce as they pledge to support the 30% by 30 initiative.
Chloe, customer relationship manager
From a young age, Chloe knew she wanted to work in the defence industry. Inspired by her dad’s career in the Royal Air Force, she saw an opportunity to work with Raytheon UK to help support its growth within the cyber sector and jumped at the chance. Chloe now works to develop, maintain, and strengthen customer relationships whilst identifying and assisting with new business development opportunities.
As she marks her second year at Raytheon UK, has she noticed a difference in how women are represented in the defence industry since she joined the company.
“There are more women in positions of power and senior roles than there were since I started, suggesting that we have moved away from the bias around 'What if they go on maternity leave?' or 'What if they are too emotional for the role?' and more towards decision-making based on skill set and experience."
“I personally feel a lot more empowered as a woman to speak up and be heard and that my opinion is valued,” she said.
In 2021, Women in Defence figures showed that the proportion of women in the UK defence industry was as low as 20%, something Chloe believes will change as businesses continue to develop and diversify.
“'If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always have what you’ve always had,’” she said. “I think this axiom rings true to the changing world that we live in. It is important that leadership and senior positions adopt this approach to recognise the change and requirement for diversity of thought, direction and what success means for the business.”
Nadia, apprentice software developer
Nadia found herself looking for a career change 2019. While scared of taking the risk, she was encouraged by friends and family to take the leap, so Nadia began an apprenticeship in software development with Raytheon UK.
“I never thought I’d be able to change careers after having my little girl but my work ethic and the people around me gave me that push I needed to move into software development," she said.
“I’m at the start of my career but working in the defence industry is rewarding as I get to see the impact of the systems we work on and the vulnerabilities we reduce.”
As the UK defence industry continues to push for 30% by 2030, Nadia believes that breaking down gender biases will help encourage the next generation of women in STEM.
“It’s important for the younger generation of girls to be aware of STEM activities and be introduced to these opportunities and careers available to them early on,” she said. “We all need to play a part in breaking stereotypes and introducing diversity.
"Raytheon UK is taking steps through the Women in Cyber intakes as well as encouraging Employee Resource Groups such as Raytheon Women’s Network to offer support for women seeking careers in STEM," she said.
Laura, IT project and delivery manager
Laura always had a passion for IT, stemming from her interest in the world of tech after designing her own website at school. Now working as an IT project and delivery manager at Raytheon UK, Laura leads multiple DevSecOps teams comprising business analysts, tech leads, developers, and engineers to tackle difficult problems for customers.
“My passion for IT started when I was young as child, interested in how and why tech worked the way it did,” she said. “After that, in my teenage years, I achieved an A in information and communications technology at GCSE level through a project I completed to design a website.
“My interest continued to grow from there and continues to grow even now, with new and exciting technology and practices intriguing me,” she said. “The more qualifications I gain and the more experience I gain, the more I want to learn new skills.”
Having started at the aerospace and defence company in 2021, Laura feels she’s only just reaching the tip of the iceberg with what she can achieve – crediting that seeing women succeed in her sector has inspired her to want to further her career.
“Even in the last decade, there are more women in STEM roles – not as many as there could be, yet I have seen an improvement. I have watched women become leaders and have been fortunate enough to be able to see a role model, a woman with the same background as myself succeeding in a large business, in the field of IT becoming a director at an early age,” Laura said.
“We need more women in senior positions to break the gender bias so young girls have relatable women to aspire to be like.”
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