Women of Leidos reflect on International Women’s Day
Illustration: Chris Gash
To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, we asked female leaders across Leidos to talk about what the day means to them, the obstacles they’ve overcome and more.
March is also Women’s History Month, a great occasion to learn from women who have excelled in male-dominated professions.
Here’s some of the wisdom and advice they shared:
On embracing equity…
- “Embracing equity, this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, means understanding we all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences that led us to where we are today. And because we don’t all start in the same place, our needs may differ.” – Debbie De La O, Leidos Defense Group
- “It’s about being brave, challenging mindsets and inertia, and understanding and truly accepting diversity.” – Kate Parr, Leidos Intelligence Group
- “Equity comes before equality. It’s vital that we not only provide equal opportunities for women, but also recognize there are different conditions that will make an individual successful.” – Julia Monger, Leidos Defense Group
- “Embracing equity means actively working to remove barriers that prevent women from accessing opportunities and resources that are essential for their success.” – Sarit Menahem, Leidos Defense Group
- “Embracing equity means actively demonstrating fairness in all aspects of life, both personal and professional, and recognizing everyone comes from unique backgrounds that should be respected.” – Robyn Barbour, Leidos Health Group
On celebrating International Women’s Day…
- “I plan to celebrate by asking other women in my life from various generations to reflect on how the Women’s movement has evolved and impacted their lives. By hearing others’ stories, I feel it can help younger generations overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.” – Jennifer Brewer, Leidos Health Group
- “I would recommend everyone find someone to encourage – daughters, granddaughters, nieces or friends. It only takes a minute.” – Kritina Holden, Leidos Civil Group
- “I’m a big believer in paying it forward. I’ve benefitted from many mentors in my career, and I make it a point to meet with and mentor women. I plan to celebrate by making sure I check in with women in both my personal and work life.” – Debbie De La O, Leidos Defense Group
On overcoming barriers in the workplace…
- “Promote your ideas and successes and ensure your voice is heard. Prepare an elevator pitch supporting those successes and include proof points. Solicit advocates, mentors and colleagues to help champion you and your voice during meetings, talent reviews and performance assessments.” – Linda Chappell, Leidos Intelligence Group
- "It's important to have a mentor, but as you advance in your career, be willing to pay it forward. I've had many female colleagues tell me how important it is for them to see me in a leadership role because they see it's possible for them to grow into leadership as well." – Nan Hardin, Leidos Dynetics Group
- “Be assertive, find an inner confidence, work hard and do a good job. A supportive network of colleagues including mentors, coaches and peers goes a long way to encourage growth and professional development.” – Louisa Pontonio, Leidos Australia
On creating change…
- “We must see opportunity in a person’s knowledge and skills before their gender, race or age. I think the world has to drive inclusiveness in everything it does for it to have a lasting impact.” – Tanisha Velez, Leidos Intelligence Group
- “We need to embrace change. It’s never easy to reassess our beliefs and question our motives, but true change can only come when we’re willing to self-reflect and question what we consider is acceptable. Centuries of society being comfortable with stigma, apathy and injustice is not easy to break through.” – Kate Parr, Leidos Intelligence Group
On succeeding in male-dominated fields…
- “Speak up! Be visible! Ask questions, propose ideas and get involved. Show them you have a place at the table and something to contribute. Even if you think your inputs aren’t the best or your ideas go nowhere the first few times, you will be seen as a core member of the team – that is important!” – Kritina Holden, Leidos Civil Group
- “Don’t view yourself as an outsider. Show up every day and you’ll be rewarded.” – Kasey Meily, Leidos Health Group
- “Stay true to yourself. You’ll bring a different perspective to the workplace that your other team members cannot. Diversity of opinion and style is what makes any team successful.” – Kate Parr, Leidos Intelligence Group
- “Do the hard work to develop your subject matter expertise, be a life-long learner and stay current in your field. Trust in yourself and the hard work you’ve accomplished. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand for that next difficult assignment. Nothing will just be handed to you, so you must be willing to continue stepping outside your comfort zone.” – Debbie De La O, Leidos Defense Group
- “Know your goals, pick your battles, argue with respect and know your strengths and weaknesses.” – Wenonah Petersen, Leidos Health Group
- “Always believe that you belong, you are in the place you are meant to be, and you deserve to be there.” – Tanisha Velez, Leidos Intelligence Group
- “Stay the course. Being the only woman in a classroom can be intimidating, but it is important to remember you aren’t alone. There are advocates for women in STEM all around. Some are mentors and advocates in more official roles, but they are also your peers.” – Elizabeth Robertson, Leidos Dynetics Group
- “Get the technical degree. In addition to keeping up with your technical certifications, make sure you take training and gain experience in management and business to gain a rounded perspective and understanding. Create a network of colleagues to reach out to for support and discuss road bumps or concerns along the way. Believe in yourself!” – Linda Chappell, Leidos Intelligence Group
On how Leidos is making a difference…
- “Leidos Life has afforded me the flexibility to juggle my work and personal responsibilities and I am very thankful.” – Kasey Meily, Leidos Health Group
- “The Leidos Women’s Network sponsors numerous women’s events and has placed a strong focus on refining them to make them as effective as possible.” – Linda Chappell, Leidos Intelligence Group
- “I’ve seen Leidos provide women with a roadmap to leadership, and it makes me extremely excited the company has prioritized hiring female talent.” – Tanisha Velez, Leidos Intelligence Group
Leidos has set goals to increase representation of women and ethnically diverse employees by ten percent by 2030.
Earlier this year, the company was recognized as one of America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity by Newsweek, earning the top diversity score of five stars.
Please contact the Leidos media relations team for more information.