By Warren Ferster


Empowering Women panel at SATELLITE 2019. Photo by Steven David / SATELLITE 2019

WASHINGTON – Many industry analysts are predicting the space economy will reach $1 trillion in the coming years, and workplace diversity just might be the ticket to getting there.

Women, minorities and younger professionals today make up a growing portion of the space and satellite industry, a trend that studies suggest bodes well for growth and profitability. But the industry still has some work to do to if it hopes to become more representative of the population at large.

Maintaining the momentum of the last decade or two was a prominent theme during a general session on diversity May 8 at the SATELLITE 2019 conference organized by Access Intelligence. The panel session featured women in senior-level industry and government positions who rose through the ranks at a time when the aerospace profession, and technical fields in general, were still dominated by the stereotypical middle-aged white males.

The industry’s changing demographics are reflected in the conference itself. In 2009, for example, only 10 of nearly 400 speakers at the annual industry gathering were women, with an even smaller number under the age of 35, according to Jeffrey Hill, the conference chairman and executive editor of Via Satellite magazine. At SATELLITE 2019, those numbers were up to more than 60 and 50, respectively, he said in opening remarks at the session.

Workplace diversity is often seen as desirable in the name of fairness, but as it turns out, it’s just good business.

“Research shows that the more diversity you have, the more profitable you are,” said Debra Facktor, vice president and general manager of Strategic Operations at Ball Aerospace. In the last six and a half years, she said, Ball’s diversity has continued to grow while its revenues have doubled.

That’s no accident, Facktor said. A workplace populated by people from different cultural backgrounds and age groups encourages the exchange new ideas that help companies retain and expand their business, she said.

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