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Six tips for fostering women in engineering

Woman engineer
Women engineers don’t need to join the “bro club.” (© Chombosan via Fotolia)

BELLEVUE, Wash. — The title of the panel was “Women in Hardware,” but the focus turned out to be more about the organizational software to support women at startups.

Five women engineers shared tips for getting ahead in a traditionally male-dominated field during today’s panel, conducted at One Bellevue Center as part of Techstars Startup Week Seattle.

The first tip is to embrace the engineer label, even if you don’t have an engineering degree.

“Being an engineer is just something I did not know I could become,” said Clarissa San Diego, the founder of Seattle-based Makerologist.

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NASA’s Peggy Whitson sets spacewalk record

Spacewalkers at work
NASA spacewalkers Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough work on the International Space Station. The astronauts had to improvise a fix to make up for a lost piece of cloth shielding. (NASA TV)

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson set a new record for female spacewalkers at the International Space Station today, during an outing that required a little improvisation to make up for a wayward hatch cover.

One of the aim of today’s spacewalk was to hook up connections at the new location for the station’s Pressurized Mating Adapter-3, or PMA-3, which will serve as a docking point for future commercial space taxis. The spacewalk followed up on the PMA-3’s transfer from the station’s Tranquility module to the Harmony module, accomplished with the station’s robotic arm.

Whitson and her NASA crewmate, Shane Kimbrough, were also supposed to install four protective shields over the port where the PMA-3 gateway used to be attached. Things got complicated, however, when one of the shields was inadvertently lost and drifted away from the station.

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Could laws boost women in business?

Nadia Shouraboura and Richard Branson
Hointer CEO Nadia Shouraboura gets in on the discussion with Virgin founder Richard Branson. (GeekWire Photo / John Cook)

To boost women’s status in business, Virgin billionaire Richard Branson says the United States and other countries should follow Norway’s lead and require corporations to put more women on their boards … or else.

Having 40 percent women representation on corporate boards would be a good target to shoot for, Branson told GeekWire in an exclusive interview today. The British entrepreneur was in Seattle to celebrate the start of Virgin Atlantic’s nonstop air service between Seattle and London – and headline a VIP forum for entrepreneurs at Axis Pioneer Square.

“Not every Virgin company’s got there yet, and we’ve still got work to do,” Branson acknowledged. “But I think if a law could be passed, that would focus the minds of an awful lot of chief executives, who are generally male in companies.”

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Owens Fellowships will boost women in aerospace

Brooke Owens
Brooke Owens, a pilot and space policy expert, died of cancer in June at the age of 35. She was an alumna of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. (Credit: Brooke Owens Fellowship Program)

Space industry pioneer Brooke Owens didn’t live long enough to reach the final frontier, but her life has inspired a fellowship program that will help other women follow in her footsteps.

This week marks the kickoff of the Brooke Owens Fellowship Program, which will offer paid summer internships for undergraduate women interested in aerospace careers.

GeekWire is among the first organizations to participate, taking our place alongside such space stalwarts as Arianespace, Blue Origin, the Museum of Flight, Planetary Resources, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic.

We’re the only host institution in the pack to offer an internship on the journalistic side of the aerospace frontier – and we’re looking for someone great to work with us in Seattle.

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