#WiSW3: Gwynn Shotwell



Shotwell was born to a brain surgeon and an artist in Evanston and was raised in Liberty, Illinois with her two sisters.

Because of her plan to work in the automotive industry, she was enrolled in Chrysler Corporation’s management training program after receiving both Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from Northwestern University.

In 1988, against the belief that men are only suitable for hands-on engineering role, she decided to take a more practical job at The Aerospace Corporation where she focused on military space research and development contracts.

Within ten years of engagement at Aerospace Corporation, she was instrumental in the completion of an extensive analysis of space policy for NASA’s future investment in space transportation.

In 1998, Shotwell left the Aerospace Corporation to become “director of the space systems division at Microcosm Inc. in El Segundo because she wanted to take up the practical task of building spacecraft. There, she served on the executive committee and was responsible for business development.

Now, Shotwell is the President and COO of SpaceX. She is responsible for day-to-day operations and customer management and strategic relations for company growth. With her leadership, SpaceX has become the household name spacecraft designs and technology.

Shotwell is an ardent advocate of STEM and she has helped raise over $1.4 million for STEM education programs reaching thousands of students nationwide through leadership in both corporate and external programs.

She has received the World Technology Award for Individual Achievement in Space, was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, and is an elected fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Shotwell’s career is a proof that vision, determination and consistency play a very important role in having a successful career with no regards to gender.

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