Karina is a Principal Engineer who does engineering project management at Northrop Grumman. As a kid, her favorite subject was geology and she wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and Thunderbird School of Global Management, where she received degrees in Music Performance, Aerospace Engineering, and Global Management. Aside from work, she enjoys African drums and acro yoga.
One of the things she enjoys most about her job is seeing a project progress from start to finish. Due to her position as a woman in STEM, she has received opportunities to do things such as experience zero gravity while participating in NASA's Microgravity University program, and even do things such as supporting launches!
"I think the main problem is retaining girls in STEM. The male/female split is more even when you look at childrens' natural talents. Retension will require a fundamental shift in how STEM is viewed in our culture. It is far more creative and imaginative than the stigma."
One challenge that she has faced as a woman in STEM is speaking up for herself; she had to learn that her ideas were valid and that she should share them. She did this by practicing and training herself to share her ideas as often as she could. When asked if she has experienced any discrimination in her field, Karina responded, "Discrimination is a strong word. Really, it's that the men aren't trained to listen to us. In most cases its not a conscious behavior. Sometimes they literally don't realize they are cutting you out or ignoring you". Although it certainly isn't easy, Karina would encourage girls to pursue STEM by telling them that, "It's not impossible to accomplish. It's just one homework assignment at a time".