The Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueler may fly without a pilot onboard, but without Chantel Iwen, the aircraft wouldn’t be cleared for departure.

Chantel’s leadership helped the MQ-25—an autonomous aircraft designed to be an in-air gas station—become the first crewless aircraft in history to refuel another aircraft and operate on an aircraft carrier deck.

“Our team helped develop and provide the aircrew, maintenance and ancillary training for the U.S. Navy,” said Chantel. “This includes everything from the deck-handling device to handoff procedures to flight-deck operations—resulting in the official ‘driver’s license’ to operate the MQ-25 by remote.”

Her work on the groundbreaking program and commitment to diversifying Boeing’s technical workforce led to Chantel’s current role as workforce strategy and engineering innovation manager.

One of her main objectives in this role is to increase the representation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers—a goal of personal significance.

For the first time in her 8-year career, Chantel, a woman of color, reports to a director who is also a woman of color. Chantel believes she can support continued progress by ensuring other women in STEM see fulfilling career paths for themselves.

“I want to be an example for women in aerospace like others have been for me,” she said. “I mentor employees and listen to their career goals to see how I can help them be successful.”

Chantel seeks to inspire women interested in engineering-related careers through college partnerships and events. Most recently, she supported recruitment efforts at the Women in Aviation International Conference by participating in professional development sessions.

Her efforts help support our equity, diversity and inclusion commitment. In 2021, women’s representation at Boeing increased to 23.2% in the United States and 24.6% internationally. And representation for women of color at Boeing has increased at executive levels and throughout the company.

“A diverse workforce helps incorporate different perspectives and ideas leading to stronger innovation,” she said. “Women have played an important role at the company and will continue to moving forward.”

group of people taking a selfie
Chantel (middle) is pictured at the Women in Aviation International Conference with engineering and workforce strategy teammates. (Boeing photo)