ORLANDO, Fla. — Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, Karmyn Norwood says she had no idea her career journey would bring her to Lockheed Martin.
Today she’s one of the Vice Presidents at Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control, which develops and manufactures advanced combat missile and rocket systems for the military.
Norwood says a summer program and a teacher named Mrs. Cotton back in Mississippi helped set the course for her future.
“Believe it or not, she was an English teacher, that really encouraged me to pursue math and science,” Norwood recalled. “There was an opportunity out there, and underrepresentation of African-Americans in areas like science, engineering, mathematics…She believed because of the strengths that I had in science, that that was a good way to go.”
Now, Norwood says she wants to do the same for the next generation, so she’s partnering with the South Central Region of the country’s oldest African-American Sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, to find top talent and expose them to all Lockheed Martin has to offer.
“When you think about the sorority, you’re talking about hundreds of college-trained women who could easily take on roles with Lockheed Martin,” Norwood said. “So when we talk about underrepresentation of women in engineering fields, or business fields, that’s an organization that we could really tap into to get that talent.”
The data backs up her efforts. A variety of recent reports show jobs in STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math- are expected to at least double in the next decade.
However, the number of black graduates in those fields is either flat or declining.
Naomie Baptiste is a young engineer working with Norwood to reach children who may become future co-workers.
“One of my favorite things that I share with elementary schools is that we make invisible aircrafts,” Baptiste said. “And they always ask me, ‘what makes the aircraft invisible?’ I’m like, you’ve got to come intern at Lockheed Martin to find that.”
Norwood says it’s just good business, as companies around the country compete to get top, diverse talent. She says she wants to make sure she’s doing her part to do for someone else what Mrs. Cotton did for her back in Mississippi.
“For young women coming up today, it’s important for them to see that level of representation, because then they know that it’s possible,” Norwood said. “If that woman can do it, then I can do it too.”
Norwood is also partnering with Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and hopes what’s now a regional effort will soon become national.
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