The sun had just about arisen, and the room was packed. Smells of fresh coffee, voices and porcelain cups. As all walks of life – doctors, astrophysicists, engineers, designers, academics, students, entrepreneurs and space enthusiastic gather together – we come with a sense of mission.
This week is very special for the UN, specifically the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs as it is the 50th anniversary of celebrating space exploration and space. From Sputnik to landing on the Moon, from Apollo to Elon Musk’s Tesla to Space, humanity has progressed so much since then.
As a number Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) Alumni Co-Founders spoke of their challenges and experiences in shaping and then forming SGAC in 1999 as a humble youth forum to seeing SGAC grow as a strong international organisation – we can sit and appreciate all the hard work that was put in to make SGAC that it is today. We see how over the last 20 years, the SGAC Alumni are currently true leaders in the Space sector, from amazing initiatives like Yuri’s Night- to leaders in human space flight and private companies like Planet.
When asked what advice would they give to us as we struggle in our cause and mission? I am told to never give up and to keep going.
- A founder’s story, a hero’s journey the stories that were shared provided inspiration to the next Space Generation
Over the two days in Vienna, we brainstormed, worked, shared, discussed, collaborated and shared ideas as to how could we work together to better achieve UNOOSA’s goals and objectives for the upcoming future (Space2030), Sustainable Development Goals and ways to further SGAC’s mission.
In the Working Group for Space for Women, we spoke of the challenges and potential solutions to furthering and encouraging women in STEM and tackling barriers for women to enter space.
We came down to a reality check:
* Less than 20% of engineers are women in Space
* Only about 20% of applications for roles in space come from women
Our recommendations included:
* Training men and women in the importance of diversity of the work force
* Greater transparency in the recruitment process and working closely with HR to rule out unconscious bias
* Creation of Young SGAC to start them young- getting young children and girls specifically into STEM earlier
* Story telling
Of the women in the room, each one had a powerful story to share. The challenges and barriers they had to overcome to get to where they are.
It is both inspiring and a clear reminder that this is about collaboration and working together.
We can’t go to space alone, we need to work together and make it happen.
Let’s make space for women and get to space together.