Advice from women leaders in the space industry.
Booz Allen has a deep history in space solutions. The firm’s work includes over 30 years of multifaceted support for the International Space Station, modernization of NASA’s infrastructure and policies, engineering and analysis for the Artemis mission, and the Cybersecurity and Privacy Enterprise Solutions and Services (CyPrESS) contract—the first time NASA has united cybersecurity for IT, operational technology, and mission systems under one contract.
Women have played an increasingly vital role along the way.
“The space industry has changed over the last 20 years, with more and more women in the mix and leading the industry,” says Vice President Karen Fields, who’s the market lead for Booz Allen’s work with NASA.
“It’s both fun and gratifying to be part of the future,” says System Engineer Nicole Loomis, who’s Booz Allen’s chief engineer for the NASA Human Space Flight Communications and Tracking Network.
“This is a great moment for anyone to pursue a career in space,” says Vice President Ginny Cevasco, who oversees systems delivery contracts for space ground processing and space situational awareness. “Our progress is rapidly accelerating, and there are so many opportunities to have impactful and meaningful roles.”
Karen, Nicole, Ginny, Lead Associate Casey Theisen, and Communications Strategist Toni Eberhart share their stories, insights, and advice.
How do you bring your full self to work each day?
“I do it by investing in myself first,” says Toni. “I set boundaries, get rest, eat well, exercise, and stay hydrated. When I’m mentally and physically well, I can have confidence in the quality of my work contributions and believe in the value I have to offer to my team and clients each day.”
Ginny cites the opportunity to “build amazing things and have fun. I have a level of trust with my colleagues that allows me to be my authentic self.”
“I allow my team and leadership to see me as vulnerable,” says Casey, who is the aerospace, NASA subaccount cybersecurity lead on Booz Allen’s CyPrESS contract. “I believe this practice also creates a work environment where my team feels welcome to show up as their full, authentic selves, too.”
What do women bring to the space industry?
“We bring different ideas and ways of thinking to space flight and influence what we are doing today and in the future,” says Karen. Casey agrees. “Diversity is critical to growth and innovation,” she adds.
Even as the future swiftly becomes reality, “we are still operating off many systems, processes, and perspectives that were designed by a pretty narrow demographic,” Toni points out. “Imagine what we will accomplish when more diverse minds, voices, and ideas come together to propel us forward.”
What challenges do women face in the space industry?
“The pay gap between men and women in the space and cybersecurity industry is still a major challenge,” Casey says. “As a hiring manager, I have witnessed women underestimating their value and worth from a salary perspective. My biggest recommendation for women is to do their research and not to be afraid to have conversations around compensation.”
“A career in the space industry can be intimidating. People sometimes think, ‘That’s for rocket scientists. I can’t do that!’ And that’s just not true,” says Toni, who’s communications lead and project manager for the NASA International Space Apps Challenge. “There are so many missions, challenges, and projects in the space industry that need diverse skills and perspectives.”
How do you achieve work-life balance?
Being a working mom of three, Toni says, “The ‘balance’ part is giving yourself grace, staying flexible, and responding to the most important priority at any given time, whether pushing through long work hours to meet a project deadline or wiping your child’s tears at the end of a bad school day.”
“One of the challenges is that much of our work has to be done in the lab or in secure facilities, so flexibility can be harder to achieve,” says Ginny. “I try to plan a lot and then adjust as needed.”
Nicole compares her team’s work to “waves rolling in on the shore,” with ebbs and flows of busy times and less busy times. “Once we identify the pattern, we’re able to establish balance within each month.”
Who are the most influential women you know, and how do they inspire you?
Nicole is proud to hear “you’re your mother’s daughter,” explaining that “my mother is head of our family, and I have learned a lot about influence, tolerance, and loyalty from her.”
“At Booz Allen, I am fortunate to work with many influential women leaders,” says Ginny. “It’s inspired me throughout my career—to have examples of women not just participating in scientific advancement, but truly driving it.”
While learning to balance work life with her family life, Casey found inspiration from the author Sheryl Sandberg. “I read her book Lean In during a pivotal point in my career,” Casey says. “With her advice, I built a team, grew our business with the Air Force, and got promoted—while I was on parental leave.”
What is your advice for young women interested in a career in space?
“Mentors!” says Karen. “Find yourself a few mentors to lean on, men and women, throughout your career.”
“Play to your strengths,” says Nicole. “Find the things that you do well and make them your own. The field is wide open, especially now. There are opportunities everywhere—take advantage of them.”
“There are so many ways to structure a career in the space industry: building the hardware and software, working on the policy issues, going up in space,” Ginny says. “Find what excites and energizes you.”
Learn more about Booz Allen’s space solutions and careers at Booz Allen.
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