“The women who have changed the world have never needed to show anything other than their intelligence”Rita Levi Montalcini
8 March is International Women’s Day, a day to fight for the equality, participation and empowerment of women in all sectors of society.
However, there are still stereotypes to overcome, one for example is trying to understand why if women make up 50% of the population the percentage of female students in engineering classrooms is less than 25%.
One of the possible answers could lie in the lack of female role models or in prejudices that are transferred from one generation to the next.
Women have more than proved that this is not a closed field for them and many have become prestigious aerospace engineers.
The truth is that talent, algorithms and science do not distinguish between genders.
Our PhD students, with their answers, want to contribute and bear witness to what has just been said by trying to convey their enthusiasm and sending out a message to all girls and women who want to approach this type of career: “be free to be what you want to be, without fear, without prejudice and above all without hesitation!”
Pink Week: Interview with Alison Ponche
Alison tell us briefly what the study of your PhD thesis is about? I am working in the area of space. I am finding solutions to autonomously guide large and complex spacecraft for future space exploration missions.
Why did you choose to study engineering? I chose Aerospace Engineering because I have always loved aircraft and wanted to help build them. However, during my Master's studies I really enjoyed space-related topics and chose to pursue this field.
What would you say to a teenager who wants to pursue an engineering degree? I would say that I think motivation helps us to get where we want to be, and that it is always better to try and adapt our way if it doesn't work or is too difficult, rather than regretting later that we didn't try.
How do you think it is possible to make girls more aware that engineering studies are for everyone (without gender exclusion). I think it should be highlighted at all stages of education, in different ways. If girls like maths and physics, teachers should make clear all the possibilities they have afterwards, and support them. At another level, during my master's studies, I was part of an association in France to encourage women to study engineering if they felt like it. We went to primary and secondary schools and presented ourselves and what we were doing. I think it helps to understand what studies can be if someone comes and talks about it. And women will feel even more interested in it if a woman introduces them to the studies.
Thank you very much Alison for your valuable contribution, and congratulations!