Northrop Grumman Systems engineer discusses diversity

Northrop Grumman Systems engineer discusses diversity

 October 10, 2018

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Meyonka Gray is a Systems Engineer at Northrop Grumman who believes that, in a world where it is imperative to create products that are ground-breaking, the key to providing the most radical solutions with the resources we have is not time or money, but people and the diversity of their backgrounds.

Growing up different

In her lifetime, Meyonka says she has only known environments where she was considered different: competitive classrooms among advanced placement (AP) and honors students, basketball courts with male pickup players, and even the manufacturing and tooling labs of her college campus.

"There’s slight discomfort with anything that is different from what we know because we have an innate desire to relate and be comfortable. That’s OK to admit. What is not OK is when we close off the opportunity to become better together by not focusing our differences toward the greater good," comments Meyonka.

Meyonka says that in those same AP and honors classrooms, her participation exposed kids to a world that some of them never knew existed. Today, those students are productive adults who, through that experience, may have a greater ability to see the world through a slightly different lens. Meyonka adds that she is also able to see another point of view because of them.

"On the basketball court, the 6-foot-2-inch guys had no defense for my low dribble. But that same quick dribble prompted many assists to other players who still take pride in the games won on those evening courts. And I will never forget the day that a bobby pin, my bobby pin, prevented a student’s serious accident while working on an industrial machine in my collegiate engineering lab. The machine’s “off” button became stuck, and the small, thin structure of that pin was maneuvered in to toggle the button," says Meyonka.

Engineering and technical professionals benefit from soft skills

Meyonka believes that these small wins, or support roles, are much like the soft skills and prowess we all need to succeed: adaptability to a changing world, compassion and empathy — especially to Northrop Grumman customers, approachability, quick wit, thoughtfulness in our thinking and actions, and the list goes on.

"Technical skill can always be hired. It’s those soft skills that are still very rare, yet so necessary, for our business growth," adds Meyonka.

Advocating for diversity and inclusion

Meyonka concludes that her path continues to make her a better human first, and a much more valuable employee. Helping others to have awareness and to feel confident is what drives her to advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace and in life.

"Sure, there have been battle scars along the path of encouraging others to view my differences as our collective strength. This hasn’t stopped the show, and it never will. I emerge more resilient," says Meyonka.

"Let’s face it - we are all different from one another within generations, gender and race. Leveraging the power of our differences is what will take us to a better tomorrow and make our company and our workforce stronger."

Join talented women like Meyonka at Northrop Grumman

Are you interested in a fulfilling career in an organization that values diversity and inclusion? Research the latest jobs at Northrop Grumman and find a great fit for your career.

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