Northrop Grumman CEO Shares Keys to Diversity in STEM

Kathy Warden, M.B.A. ’99, also discussed the steps her company is taking to prepare the next generation of women in STEM.

March 10, 2021


Kathy Warden

Kathy Warden, M.B.A. ’99,  is the president and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corp. (Courtesy photo)

By Briahnna Brown

For Kathy Warden, M.B.A. ’99, diversity must go beyond representation.

As president and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corp., establishing a culture of inclusion and ensuring that everyone feels a sense of belonging and respect regardless of background is essential, Ms. Warden said.

“That's the work that is done in our company, day in and day out, to ensure it's well beyond a sense of having someone in the company that looks like you who's able to succeed and get equitable outcomes, but to yourself, feel like you're contributing and belong in our environment,” Ms. Warden said.

Ms. Warden shared her insights during a virtual George Talks Business event on Monday. The event, which the George Washington University School of Business hosted and live-streamed, was co-moderated by GWSB Dean Anuj Mehrotra and School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean John Lach.

During the event, which was held on International Women’s Day, Dr. Lach asked Ms. Warden about what Northrop Grumman is doing to help encourage young women and girls to pursue STEM careers.

The work toward creating pathways for women to pursue STEM careers needs to start early in the education system, Ms. Warden said, because there are girls who are choosing not to follow the STEM pathway as early as late elementary or middle school. That is why her company works to train middle school teachers on how to engage all students in STEM subjects.

“[We work] to show them that STEM is accessible to everyone,” Ms. Warden said. “It's not something to be afraid of or intimidated by, and we can help develop the skills for learning in any individual in science, technology, engineering and math, and there are exciting careers that can come from study in those fields.”

Northrop Grumman also sponsors robotics competitions aimed at children, she said, such as CyberPatriot with the U.S. Air Force, to find other ways to make STEM fun for children while helping them learn the skills they can use later in careers.

Even with that much preparedness in K-12, Ms. Warden said, universities and companies need to incorporate programming to help those people later on in life. That programming includes everything from being intentional about representation in the classroom and the boardroom, as well as mentorship and other methods of support to help people succeed.

“Those are all the types of things that we do in our business as people encounter challenges with their progression in their career, but are also important at the university level when students are challenged so that they don't turn away from an engineering school or a business school to another area that they feel might be more accessible or easier for them to complete,” Ms. Warden said.

“They are able to stick with it because you're providing support and wraparound services that allow them to move through those challenges.”