Dr. Justine Johannes is director of the Nuclear Weapons Stockpile and Weapon Product Realization Center at Sandia National Laboratory, where she manages Sandia’s Directed Stockpile Work with oversight of nearly a $1.4 billion budget.

Over the years, she has held various leadership roles at Sandia, including oversight of an Engineering Sciences Center staff of 400 committed to supporting Sandia’s national security mission. Prior to that, she led seven departments responsible for providing solutions in solid mechanics and structural dynamics for national security sciences.

Johannes is a leader whose actions demonstrate her commitment to diversity and she’s known for providing a sense of community for women in the work place. She sits on various education engineering boards and is an active mentor and volunteer for a volume of girls STEM programs.

In the words of Dr. Justine Johannes:

What barriers are in the way to closing the gender gap in STEM?

“I think two issues get in the way of women in STEM fields. One barrier is keeping girls engaged in math and sciences in K-12 education because it is hard for them to move into STEM fields if they don’t have a sufficient background to be successful. The other challenge is reaching a tipping point where young girls see themselves having peers and a community of women to engage in their jobs. This ‘critical mass’ of women in STEM is important in attracting more women.”

How is the world changing with respect to STEM?
“The opportunity to change the world through automation and software development is growing. This change creates potential opportunities for young women because they can bring these skills to a large number of business sectors from health care to self-driving cars as a couple of examples. Often young women are motivated to choose a career where they can make a difference and the opportunities in these fields are growing and increasing the chance to make a difference.”

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?
“It is important to provide tutoring and mentoring for young women so they can be successful in school and they can have exposure to the breadth of opportunities provided in STEM careers. The next challenge is supporting women so they stay in STEM fields and thrive. I am a big believer in helping to create a sense of community amongst the women in an organization so they can help support each other.”

Words I live by:
“Be kind, and humble. Work hard to contribute to society, and give back to others.”