KSAT supporting women in space industry conference scholarships

Female engineers in the space industry are often missing out on networks that are developed during conferences. That is why KSAT has offered four scholarships to attend space conferences for young professionals.

Why aren’t that many women in management positions in the space industry? One reason can be the lack of opportunity to build a strong network. The space industry is small and very social, and new roles are typically discovered through one’s network. It can be difficult for young female professionals to get access to these networks, as space conferences are usually very expensive to attend and employers might not be willing to pay for their attendance.

– We thought that one tangible thing we could do to address this gap is to sponsor young female professionals to be able to attend a conference to start growing their network, says Katherine Monson (CEO for KSAT USA).

Fundraiser and auction for scholarships

KSAT decided to partner with organisations in the Bay area for a fundraising initiative held alongside the Smallsat Symposium in Mountain View, CA. KSAT hosts a big event every year and hoped this could be a platform for an auction with the target to send two young women to space conferences that same year.

The winners (1).jpg

Pictured is Jeanette Quinlan, representing Bay Area Women in Aerospace; Carolyn Belle, former KSAT team member; Roselin Campos, mechanical Engineer at MAXAR and scholarship recipient; and Mitchell Scher, Senior Manager, Marketing and Operations at Loft Orbital. The second recipient, Sidney Thompson was still a student when she got the scholarship, and had to do an exam when the photo was taken.

Great response from the industry

The fundraiser proved very successful, thanks to the cooperation from great partner organisations. KSAT partnered with the local community network Bay Area Women in Aerospace, founded by Jeanette Quinlan (Director of Space Systems at Akash Systems), and Space in the Bay, founded by Mitchell Scher (Senior Manager for Marketing and Operations at Loft Orbital). Carolyn Belle (now Director of Advanced Systems for Astroscale US) led the efforts for KSAT. Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) also joined the team to assist with financial management for the scholarship and donations.

– We wanted to focus on the community in the Bay Area, since this is where the conference is held. We reached out to our partners and friends in the industry saying that we wanted to do an auction, and the response was fantastic. Businesses and private people donated items like backpacks, piñatas, books, radios among many great items, Katherine Monson says, and adds:

– I am so impressed by the reception to our initiative, we have an industry that really cares. We got a lot of support from our customers and everyone was cheering and helping out.

The auction has been organised twice, in 2019 and beginning of 2020, and two young female professionals have received scholarships. Unfortunately, as the coronavirus stopped in-person conferences from being organised in 2020, and the two recipients now hope to attend the Space Symposium later this year instead. 

Silent auction (4).jpg

A silent auction is where you have a paper next to the item that’s auctioned. The bidders write their name and the amount, and then you have to go back and forth to check if someone has raised your bid. For this auction a lot of items were donated by the industry.