Inspiring Inclusion on International Women’s Day

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As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, it’s a perfect moment to reflect on the incredible strides women have made in the space industry and to celebrate the women helping to deliver our impact as an organisation.

This year’s theme, “Inspire Inclusion,” resonates with the Catapult’s mission to foster diversity and equality within our organisation and across the space sector. Our CEO, John Abbott, shares his personal thoughts on inclusion in the space sector and what it means for future generations:

“As a newcomer to the space sector, I can’t help but feel we have a way to go before we can genuinely claim to be diverse, and I am sure we can be more inclusive. This International Women’s Day, I’m reminded of how vital that challenge is. We have the opportunity to not only build a better, more impactful sector for today but also to leave a legacy for the daughters that will follow us.

In our organisation, we are fortunate to have 45.5% of our colleagues who identify as female. I’m sure this is down to the support and challenge of the ED&I group, subgroups like “Lean-In”, and policies like blind recruitment and flexible working. Nevertheless, I’m sure we can do more and look forward to working with the EMT and ED&I group on their plans for the year. I’m hopeful that we can enable more women to share their own stories and that we see more people coming forward as allies. I’m also keen that we think about how we can better support women in the menopause.

Today is a day to reflect and celebrate, but the work we do over the next year is most important. I’d encourage you to think about what else you might be able to do to improve the inclusivity of both the organisation and the sector.”

Women have played pivotal roles in shaping the landscape of space, from pioneering astronauts like Valentina Tereshkova to visionary engineers like Mary Jackson, women have consistently demonstrated their talent, passion, and ingenuity in advancing our understanding of what lies beyond our atmosphere.

Strong women underpin everything we do here at the Catapult, working across every aspect of the business, all integral to our mission to innovate for a better world empowered by space. We asked some of the fantastic individuals here to share their thoughts on inclusion, working in the sector as a woman, and the importance of uplifting marginalised voices:

“We changed the way we hire people, using a blind recruitment process, resulting in much more dynamic and diverse workforce. This year any space companies taking on a SPIN placement student will be following our recruitment process, we wait to see the results. We challenge the sector to follow our lead!”

Nafeesa Dajda – Director of National Capability

“I am really happy to see an increasing number of women coming to work in the space sector, growing the number of role models in this exciting area for the next generation”.

Emma Hatton – Interim Head of Geospatial Intelligence

“Working in the space sector has enabled me to work all over the world in some truly amazing places and with some truly amazing people – so many of whom I count as friends”.

Kathie Bowden – Skills Manager

“Choosing a career in tech means there’s always something new to learn, so you’ll never get bored! And every day you can be contributing in some way – designing, fixing, or building things that can have a big impact in the world”.

Liz Scott – Geospatial Solutions Architect

“Solo parenting doesn’t mean that you cannot work full time and be the parent that your child needs you to be”.

Laura Earp – Executive Assistant

“Working in a technology driven field is exciting due to continually evolving developments, particularly with space data, the possibilities of what is technically feasible keep expanding”.

Sarah Cheesbrough – EO Consultant

“Working in the space sector is often very male dominated, but it’s inspiring to see more and more women in the room contributing to the space ecosystem”.

Simone Hartless – Head of Cluster Growth

“In order for the space sector to grow and thrive, we need the best ideas to be at the table. How can we be sure these ideas are at the table if we aren’t fighting to eradicate social inequities and injustices, and platforming those who are disadvantaged from histories of marginalisation?”

Anuradha Damale-Day – Space Ecosystem Manager

As we look ahead, let us continue to champion the contributions of women and non-binary people, of all sexualities and ethnicities, in the space sector and strive to create an environment where every individual has their voice heard and has the opportunity to deliver impact and drive new innovations, regardless of background. Together, let’s inspire inclusion and build a future where space is accessible to all.

Happy International Women’s Day!