FEMALES-IN-TECH SPOTLIGHT: TIFFANY WHITE
Growing up, Tiffany White looked for mentors and leaders - females who modeled exploration and frontiers. She looked to heroines in novels for inspiration, but also to Sally Ride, the first female in space. She wanted to charge forward like them, scouting the unknown. By the time Tiffany graduated from Purdue University with an aerospace engineering degree, she knew she was on the right path.
Surrounded by those unlike her, Tiffany spent years climbing the ladder at Rolls Royce. She developed engines and control systems on the electrical and mechanical side. She interpreted the government's needs and designed pivotal high-tech for our country. Her title was Chief of Helicopter Subsystems… four jobs ago. Needless to say, Tiffany is smart, determined, focused, and unusual. She has not only spearheaded leadership roles in a heavily male-dominated industry, but has also made it her job to show other women how to do the same.
“Women need a tribe,” she recognizes. And she’s doing her part to create those communities for many other females in the next generation. By day, she’s Head of Engineering Operations in Rolls Royce’s Defense division. Outside of work, she volunteers her time, thoughts, and leadership at Women & Hi Tech, Pass the Torch for Women Foundation, and the Eleven Fifty Academy. Tiffany exemplifies the leadership and representation many girls and women need to feel valued in their own STEM journeys. She thinks mentoring, formally and informally, should be a priority for other C-Suite Women. She explains, “One thing that women working in STEM-related fields tend not to have is that as you move up in the ranks, there become fewer and fewer women in the workplace.”
There aren’t a lot of women who have pioneered as impressively as Tiffany. And the many factors that can dilute the diversity near the top in a STEM career are well studied. Factors like pregnancy/early child-care time-off, lack of opportunities on projects, skill valuation, and rarity of other like-mentors can prevent women and other minorities from climbing those top ranks. Tiffany wants to change this. One criteria she pushes is, “all of us should be sponsoring or mentoring someone who doesn’t look like us.” Wow. What an empowered initiative. If every one of us in tech lived and promoted that message, what kind of impact could we have on all our lives? The sky is literally the limit.
Today, along with holding impressive posts and volunteer commitments, Tiffany is a wife and mother of two girls in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ask her about automated design systems for defense mechanisms around the world, and she smiles. She knows the gritty details of technology, and the vast future we are all working towards. Her job now, as she sees it, is to empower the future so other women can be explorers too.