Boeing Co. is taking some heat for its latest Boeing Technical Fellowship class, a prestigious honor that includes 18 of the aerospace giant's top experts in key technology and science fields — but no women.
Boeing, which builds its 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston, says the most recent all-male grouping is "at the forefront in their technical fields, are renowned both inside and outside the company and embody the Boeing Behaviors," a reference to the company's list of seven attributes that make a great leader.
The announcement in the planemaker's internal newsletter went on to say that only one-tenth of 1 percent of the company's technical workforce attains the "Senior Technical Fellow" rank, which is an executive position.
The lack of diversity left many Boeing workers puzzled. Some were angry enough that they complained to management about the perceived lack of opportunities and recognition for talented women in the workforce.
The rumblings got so loud that Greg Hyslop, Boeing's chief technology officer, felt the need to address the criticism in an Aug. 20 note to employees.
"A number of members of our team have observed that there were no women in this group — and this has led to questions about whether the engineering function truly supports diversity and inclusion," Hyslop said in the message, which was provided to The Post and Courier.
Hyslop assured workers that management values diversity, but added: "I recognize that the lack of women ... has led members of our team to question this support. I want you to know that I, along with engineering leadership, am committed to addressing this matter."
He promised Boeing will do more to include a diverse group of candidates for the fellowship program going forward.
While this year's fellowship class included a range of defense, commercial airplane and technology workers from Washington, Missouri, California and Alabama, none were from South Carolina.
Boeing, one of the Charleston region's largest employers, assembles the twin-aisle 787 commercial jet at its campus off International Boulevard and has facilities in North Charleston that build interior cabin parts for the plane, design and build jet engine parts and conduct research.
New tug in town
A new tugboat arrived in Charleston last week to help big container ships carrying 14,000 or more cargo boxes navigate their way to and from Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant.
The Capt. Jim McAllister is a 6,770-horsepower tug designed to handle the neo-Panamax ships now calling on the Port of Charleston.
It was delivered to owner McAllister Towing and Transportation by Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, Fla.
The boat is powered by two Caterpillar 3561E Tier 4 engines. It is rated for 80 metric tons of bollard pull, although it exceeded that in sea trials. The Capt. Jim joins her sister vessels — the Capt. Brian, Rosemary and Ava McAllister — as the most powerful Tier 4 tugs in the McAllister fleet.
"The Capt. Jim will make a huge difference here," said Capt. Steven Kicklighter, vice president and general manager of McAllister's Charleston operations. "We are receiving 1,200-foot, 14,000 (container) ships on an almost daily basis. This tug, with her capabilities, will be able to safely handle these ships and even larger ones with exceptional control and power."
The Capt. Jim is named after James P. McAllister, the second-generation McAllister who joined the company in 1885.