Happy Women’s History month!
As a woman in a STEM field, I get asked a lot about the challenges I faced getting my Ph.D. in physics and working in a very nearly all-male environment. It’s kind of funny, because, honestly I’ve never really felt as though my gender played a part in my choice of career or how well I did in my studies. I did have to deal with a few jerks in college (a professor who informed me that I shouldn’t torture myself with science and math classes as surely I was only in college to find a nice boy to settle down with, and a pair of engineering students who told me to keep my opinions to myself since surely a girl couldn’t possibly understand physics), but overall, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who supported me throughout my career – both men and women.
I’ve tried to use my career to pay it forward, and encourage all kids, but especially girls, to love science. Curiosity about how the world works comes naturally to kids, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend my nearly 25-year career since completing my Ph.D. sharing my own love of science with kids of all ages. I am one of those incredibly lucky people who really loves her job, and I’m excited that I get to do it every day.
I was only a baby when Neil Armstrong took his historic first steps on the Moon (my mother assures me I was propped up in front of the TV, watching closely), and now, as we prepare to go back to the Moon, I’m excited to see how many women will be involved in that effort. The Artemis program’s launch director is the first female launch director in NASA history. Thirty percent of the engineers working with her are also female. Fully half of the Artemis astronaut corps is female, and NASA has declared that the first pair of Artemis boots on the Moon will be worn by a woman. It’s an exciting time, and I’m glad I’m here to be a part of it.
During this pandemic, it’s been tough, because I can’t welcome people into my planetarium and observatory the way I want to. But I can still share my passion for the cosmos with you! Join me this Saturday, March 13, live on the Virginia Living Museum’s Facebook Page at 7:30pm. I’ll be talking about what’s going on in the sky above us and sharing my love of the universe. Bring your questions, because that’s the part of the event I love the most! And bring the kids, especially the girls, in your life. Show them that they truly can achieve anything they set their minds to…even reaching for the stars.
See you then!