Gail Slemon is a living example of how women in engineering can inspire other women.
As a ninth grader, Slemon, who now oversees about 250 employees in San Diego as a software and digital technology manager, took a tour of IBM in her hometown of Honolulu. She saw a computer for the first time and decided her future would be in computing.
Three years later, Slemon's mom, a bookkeeper who had worked her way up to assistant vice president at a large bank, persuaded her otherwise. “She convinced me I needed to learn how to build computers before I could actually use them,” Slemon recalls. As a result, Slemon earned an electrical engineering degree from Cornell University. At Northrop Grumman, she led the development of software that allows aircraft such as the MH-60 Seahawk helicopter and B-1B and B-52 bombers to digitally obtain situational awareness and commands.
While Slemon says that her mom had the biggest influence on her career path, many other women guided her along the way. Now, Slemon returns the favor by serving as a mentor to young women in engineering in her management role in the Airborne C4ISR Systems Division, as well as by volunteering at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) events sponsored by Northrop Grumman employee resource groups and University Relations and Recruiting.
You might find Slemon capturing the imaginations of Girl Scouts with a talk on the James Webb Space Telescope, working with underserved students in Compton, California, as part of the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids program or presiding at a code-a-thon to recruit young software engineering majors to Northrop Grumman.
Slemon says she loves the creative side of STEM: “I like the notion of people creating a bigger and better set of capabilities for people to use to improve their lives.”
She emphasizes that creativity in her recruiting and mentoring, seeing her volunteer work as a passing of the torch. “It's very gratifying that Northrop Grumman has women in management in STEM who are great role models,” Slemon says. “I'd like to introduce more young women to the company so they can grow into those roles in the future.”
Are you interested in a career in engineering? Northrop Grumman has opportunities in many areas of expertise. We also have many ways to participate in mentoring, both internally and externally.