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Special Newsletter 2015/4

WIA offers female professionals a stable network to enhance their personal outreach in this very special community, recognizing and promoting all the diverse talents that it takes to strengthen growth and innovation in this highly dynamic sector.
Claudia Kessler
all photos: credit IAF, 2015

Dear WIA-Europe Members,

A great thanks to the entire community!

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is the main event of the year gathering the entire space community, heads of space agencies and space industries, scientists, engineers, enthusiasts, young professionals and students, and amongst them a significant number of women. This year, the 66th IAC took place in Jerusalem and brought together almost 2500 participants from more than 60 countries. WIA-Europe has made it a tradition to organize its main global networking event – the WIA-Europe Breakfast – on Wednesday of the IAC week. Also this year, on the 14th of October 2015, WIA-Europe invited a global community to come together early in the morning to enjoy a rich program of speeches by prominent speakers as well as networking in a relaxing atmosphere during breakfast.

An unprecedented number of 250 men and women participated – an outstanding success that could not have been predicted.

Your WIA-Europe Team 
The attractive program was moderated by WIA-E Executive Director, Elena Feichtinger, and started with a welcome address by the WIA-E Chair of the Board of Directors, Claudia Kessler, who said:

“What is the engine behind the enormous growth and success of WIA-Europe? It is, in a nutshell, what has up to now always been behind great developments in the course of human history - the logics of a simple and obvious idea. In this case, the idea that applying the principle of diversity will always provide the most efficient and powerful fuel to run the motor of societal development. Diversity of gender, of age, of nationality and education, diversity of ethnic as well as cultural roots. WIA offers female professionals a stable network to enhance their personal outreach in this very special community, recognizing and promoting all the diverse talents that it takes to strengthen growth and innovation in this highly dynamic sector: Indeed, the shortest way from here to innovative horizons - especially in the area of space and space technology - is a zigzag line.”




top: Lena Feichtinger, bottom Claudia Kessler
She also read a message from the WIA-E President, Simonetta di Pippo, who could unfortunately not be present, and who recalled WIA-Europe’s vision:

We envision a world where we Europeans collaboratively created an aerospace sector with an inclusive representation. WIA-Europe aspires to be an active ambassador for aerospace. In this context, WIA-Europe acts as an independent network that advocates political commitment in space programs, promotes professional development in aerospace and recognizes women's achievements in the sector. WIA-Europe welcomes the diverse talent that is key to the growth of a modern and dynamic aerospace sector in Europe and beyond.”
 
Present at the event were also WIA-Europe’s Director of Individual Membership, Paola Belingheri, and Director of Professional Development, Christina Giannopapa.
WIA-Europe acts as an independent network that advocates political commitment in space programs, promotes professional development in aerospace and recognizes women's achievements in the sector.
Simonetta di Pippo
After a welcome address by the President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), Kiyoshi Higuchi, a cooperation agreement between the IAF and WIA-E was signed, based on the mutual desire to formalise and strengthen cooperation and in order to explore the potential for collaboration in areas of mutual interest. IAF and WIA-Europe have cooperated for many years and in 2013 WIA-E became an IAF member organization.
The series of exciting speeches was initiated by a lively presentation by Prof. Jan Woerner, Director General of the European Space Agency, and WIA-Europe’s continuous supporter and frequent guest at these events. Prof. Woerner’s main key message to the audience was

"From the Apollo-effect to the Artemis-effect,
let us have Diversity as an Opportunity for Space!"

 
One should not forget that Apollo who was the Greek god of music and son of Zeus and Leto , had a twin Artemis. Artemis was the goddess guarding women and children, as well as goddess of hunting, the moon and natural environment. So in the STEM gender distribution the Apollo effect has been seen and in the future we should be moving towards a better gender balance distribution and the Artemis effect. Prof. Wörner pointed out, that overall, diversity is not something that you achieve by just placing rules and expecting it would work. Achieving diversity should be through proactively using diversity as the instrument to take advantage of different personalities having different backgrounds, different views and different competencies.
As a small surprise to the audience, representatives of the Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow presented 2 members of the female crew of 6 volunteers to participate in the “Luna2015” isolation study, a project to simulate an 8-day mission to the Moon.
When I first embarked on a career in aerospace back in the 1980s, there were woefully few women. I was never taught by a female engineering professor. Actually, I didn't know they existed. 
Dava Newman
In her inspiring intervention, Dr. Dava Newman, Deputy NASA Administrator, said:

"It was wonderful to connect with Women in Aerospace-Europe during IAC. Women in Aerospace has been an important organization for our field, and it's great to see it grow globally. Next week we're celebrating WIA's 30th anniversary back in the US. 
When I first embarked on a career in aerospace back in the 1980s, there were woefully few women. I was never taught by a female engineering professor. Actually, I didn't know they existed. The situation has improved, but we continue to work to engage the young women of today in the exciting careers in the disciplines I like to call STEAMD, or science, technology, engineering, the arts, math, and design.
 NASA is on a journey to Mars, and it involves everything we do. The journey involves learning how to live and work in space for the long term while we're still in low Earth orbit. We'll soon move from there to the proving ground of deep space, or Earth-Moon orbit. The mission of the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft around the Moon, for instance, will test technologies such as solar electric propulsion, habitats and radiation shielding in the proving ground of deep space. All of this is preparing us for missions in the 2030s in the Mars system where astronauts, their life-support systems and their exploration tools will be mature enough to operate independently of earth.
 We know that we need all the great ideas of women and men to pursue our Journey to Mars and the other exciting NASA missions. Within our NASA community, we are working to ensure that the women on our team feel empowered and connected as they advance in their careers. At a recent Women@NASA meeting, we heard great examples for supporting the women in our community such as the following: 
  • forming internal networks to enable discussion of issues that impact women; 
  • highlighting profiles of women as role models; 
  • inviting our male colleagues to share how they are inspired by the contributions of women; 
  • helping women prepare for job applications and interviews for new positions. 
All of these are valuable insights and promising practices, and we continue to learn from each other about how to improve our work culture to support and mentor women.
So all of this is to say that I am very excited about what the future holds for all of us in this amazing field. My mantra as an aerospace engineering leader is simple: Love, Act, Discover and Innovate (or LADI). I pass along this philosophy to my male and female colleagues, as a strong foundation for our collaborative work. I look forward to building and celebrating international partnerships within our community to help empower the next generation of Women in Aerospace.”

 
Today, female students outnumber their male fellows and yet there are far more men working in the industry. Obviously, education is not the sole reason for this disparity. I believe that mentoring is a crucial factor in every successful career.
Pascale Ehrenfreund
Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center DLR, stated:
Today, female students outnumber their male fellows and yet there are far more men working in the industry. Obviously, education is not the sole reason for this disparity. I believe that mentoring is a crucial factor in every successful career. In this context, it is not enough to provide men and women with equal opportunities in the aerospace industry. Rather, young women and men must be confronted with tasks that allow them to grow beyond their own boundaries and that provide them with opportunities to exceed their own standards. This is exactly what male and female mentors should do with promising young men as well as with aspiring young women.”
I stand here before you today as an Israeli engineer, as a leader, as a woman, as a wife and as a very proud mother to my 3 grown up kids.
Inbal Kreiss
Two speakers of the host country Israel put the focus on the situation and impact of women in the Israeli aerospace sector. Dr. Inbal Kreiss, Deputy General Manager of MBT Space Division, Israel Aerospace Industries, said:
“The situation here in the Middle East is one that compels Israel’s leaders, scientists and industries to constantly be on top of their game. These challenges force us, as the space community, to always set the bar high. Sometimes even higher than what seems possible, and constantly work to overcome barriers. I stand here before you today as an Israeli engineer, as a leader, as a woman, as a wife and as a very proud mother to my 3 grown up kids. But every morning when I step into my office in the Israeli Space Centre, I don’t think of myself in terms of identities. Rather I am concentrated in my duties for the short term and in the ways to fulfill the vision we embraced for the long term. Space is a true Israeli success story and in order to continue this proud legacy, we must do more and “drive” our space activity to a new level and maintain our technological lead. In my vision we need to systematically create and develop innovative ideas and especially look for added values in compare to the international market. This is ongoing efforts that address cross-cutting initiatives directly to technology state of the art programs. Additional key parameter, is maintaining the organization environment of determination, and refusing to settle for less than excellence – and to keep the expectations high. We have to sustain international cooperation which has been essential to achieve truly great accomplishments in space while providing value to all. I am leading Israel space industry into the challenging movement, known as the "New Space" era in a creative, innovative and professional environment. And last important goal is giving back to the community. I believe that education is vital to the wellbeing and development of society and economy. We accomplished a lot so far, but there is much more work to be done. I believe that only the combination between long term vision and hard day-to-day work is the key for creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.”
Today, space exploration is no longer referred to as "manned spaceflights", but as "Human Spaceflight". Nevertheless, the number of women involved in space activity is still lower than the number of men; a fact which should and can be changed.
Deganit Paikowsky
Dr. Deganit Paikowsky, Senior Researcher, Yuval Neeman Workshop for Science and Security, Tel Aviv University, gave the following key message:
The ability of people, let alone women, to break free from the Earth into space is not obvious. For these women, the breakthrough was not only their departure from Earth, but also a breakthrough of social barriers and conventions. Perhaps the latter was a more difficult task. Today, space exploration is no longer referred to as "manned spaceflights", but as "Human Spaceflight". Nevertheless, the number of women involved in space activity is still lower than the number of men; a fact which should and can be changed.
Women in Israel are involved in space activities in a variety of fields, which range from engineering to policy and legal issues. Nevertheless, this is a small group. It is our responsibility to further expand this group. We need to encourage young women to get involved in space activities and inspire them to believe that it is in their power to succeed and excel in this domain.
Israel's space agency is working hard on expanding opportunities for women, and especially young girls, to specialize in space. That entails developing their leadership skills and increasing their visibility and influence in the space community in Israel.”
WIA-Europe would like to express sincere thanks to the distinguished speakers, all participants and the sponsors, DLR and IAF, for making this event such a great success.

We are looking forward to welcoming you all at our next WIA-Europe Breakfast event at the IAF Spring Meetings in Paris on 22 March 2016.

 
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