A pioneer in both computer and software development and technology management for the aerospace industry, Shirley McCarty designed one of the first precursors of internet technology. Over three decades, she designed and implemented unique, innovative applications that are still critical to national security today. She has significantly contributed to advancing the professionalism of women by inspiring women to pursue their full potential.
Early in her career, Shirley was a project leader for the development of one of the first multiprocessor operating systems. After a decade of software development and computer systems engineering at Douglas Aircraft and the Aerospace Corporation, she accepted her first management position directing the Aerospace Corporation systems software department.
As the principal director of software engineering, she oversaw seven engineering departments and supervised the development of a broad range of satellite and ground systems for national security programs. Her directorship included research in computer security, computer networks, expert systems, and advanced workstation concepts for satellite command and control.
A promotion to general manager of human resources gave Shirley an opportunity to put technology to work in the business of hiring and developing Aerospace employees.
Before retiring in 1996, Shirley directed the newly formed office of business product development. After retiring, she served as the vice president of economic development for the South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce.
In 1998, she was appointed to the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, and in 2002, she was elected to chair the panel. Shirley is the first woman to serve in that role since the panel was established in 1967.
She was a Society of Women Engineers (SWE) fellow and a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops across the nation. She has been involved in a wide range of programs supporting the advancement of women in academic and professional achievement. In 1994, she testified before the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission in Washington, D.C., at the request of Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. She has received the Aerospace Corporation President's Award of Merit, the Women in Business Achievement Award, and her alma mater's Sioux Alumni Award.
She serves on the advisory board for the School of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Northridge, the California Academy of Mathematics and Science and the Industrial Advisory board of the Purdue University student section of SWE.