One of the great aspects of the Silicon Valley Comic Con is the high representation of science and technology personalties and events. This year Nayah Sci Fi had the honor of attending the Women at NASA panel. The panelists featured these accomplished women from the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.
Chief of Staff
Deputy Division Chief of the Aviation Systems Division
Deputy Director of Science
Karen Bradford moderated this hour-long discussion that centered on topics, such as who mentored them in their lives and careers; what personal and professional barriers they’ve had to overcome; and what projects they’ve worked on that appears in current science fiction media.
All the panelists had interesting paths to NASA, which indicated that if you have the skill and ability, you can work at NASA, regardless of where you start.
When talking about their personal and professional barriers, the responses ranged from being female, being women of color, and experiencing personal self-doubt that everyone can feel in life.
All the panelists agreed that it is important to recognize these various barriers and self-doubt, and then set about to go forth and move past these obstacles. And when you feel you’ve pushed forward and feel a sense of comfort, challenge yourself. Move out of your comfort level and take risks to pursue other personal and professional goals.
Mentorship is an important component in a successful career, and each panelist was able to identify one or more mentors that shaped their NASA careers. In addition, they stressed their commitment to being mentors for others.
There were a couple of interesting stories about how their work reflects in science fiction. One panelist shared how it was funny to her and her colleagues how a few work incidents appeared on the Big Bang Theory. Was there a leak to the show? Another panelist was proud of working on a tricorder project reminiscent of the tricorders one sees on Star Trek.
The panel discussion was informative, engaging, and inspirational for any girl or woman interested in pursuing careers in science and technology, especially at NASA. It can be done. It’s happening now.