Last year, Maxar partnered with Rung for Women, a Missouri-based nonprofit that helps provide job readiness and career development training for women in the St. Louis area, to create a Geospatial Analyst Training Program at Maryville University. This first-of-a-kind program is designed to provide trainees with the knowledge and skills needed for entry-level geospatial jobs. Maxar serves as an industry advisor, helping provide insights to shape course content.

After hiring two women from the program’s first graduating class, Maxar recently renewed its commitment to Rung for Women for another three years, reflecting the company’s commitment to help increase diversity within the geospatial and aerospace industries.

DaMisha White and Darlene Johnston, two Rung for Women graduates hired by Maxar in 2022.

To learn more about this program and the value it brings, we spoke with two Maxar colleagues: Dana Stuckey, a Production Senior Manager who has been involved in the program since last year, and DaMisha White, an Imagery Technician who graduated from the program earlier this year.

Q: Dana, can you tell us a bit more about how Maxar got involved with Rung for Women?

Dana: Rung for Women is an incredible organization that empowers women in our community to elevate their lives through a holistic approach to career development. They have the opportunity to take courses to learn skills required for a new career and can access support such as childcare and health services to help them succeed. Maxar connected with Rung for Women in late 2020, just as they were beginning to create their geospatial pathway. We are members of the Employer Advisory Panel and have signed a letter of commitment that states our intent to consider graduates for entry level positions here at Maxar. I’m proud to say that so far, we’ve had the opportunity to hire two graduating members.

Q: DaMisha, how did you hear about the program and get involved?

DaMisha: I heard about the Rung for Women program through my older sister over dinner. After speaking to me a couple times about the program, she convinced me to apply. I didn't know about the geospatial industry before participating in the program, but I was looking for a new career opportunity, and the timing was right.

Q: What was your experience with the program and how are you liking your new career in the geospatial industry?

DaMisha: Rung for Women has built the foundation for my success. They brought people who worked in the field to meet with us and discuss what they do. Hearing from people in the field makes you feel like you know what is out there and can build a connection. Being able to get my certification through the Introduction to ARCGIS and Geospatial Analysis courses at Maryville University has made me feel capable of succeeding. Today, I am a geospatial technician, working on maps to fix errors like flooding or tile gaps within a cell.

Q: Dana, it’s amazing to hear DaMisha’s story. Despite not previously knowing much about the geospatial industry, she acquired the skills and found a job that she loves in less than a year. What can the geospatial industry learn from Rung for Women as it works to increase diversity and create a more inclusive profession?

Dana: One of the biggest challenges in bringing more women into our industry is awareness. While there is a growing conversation about the geospatial industry, I don’t feel like it is a visible option to many people when considering career paths. By partnering with organizations like Rung for Women or engaging with students, we can introduce them to what is possible. So, to other across the industry, I’d say get involved!

Q: DaMisha, what are your thoughts on the same topic?

DaMisha: I agree. Exposure is a big challenge. Some women, including me, did not know these opportunities were out there. If I would have done something like this in high school, I think I would have made this my career path earlier. I feel like companies and professionals should do more outreach activities. Once more people know about the geospatial industry, they will see this might be the place for them.

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