This year”s World Space Week is celebrating women in space. Pioneer Loredana Bessone joined the European Space Agency in 1990. She has designed and directed the ESA Caves Spaceflight Analogue, Human Behaviour and Performance course for astronauts since 2011.
The training course takes astronauts to the depths of earth to improve their communication, problem-solving and teamwork skills.
Bessone stressed the importance of encouraging young girls to enter the field of science which is still a male-dominated sphere.
“I don’t think you can encourage young women to pursue this career. You’ll have to start when they are kids, you’ll have to allow kids girls to do things that are interesting for them.
“You need to make sure that they are having all the opportunities when they are young because once they are 25, they cannot choose anymore to be just open to any career. They have already chosen it.
“They need to be able to do it much earlier. So I think the only way to encourage women is to start by telling them that they can do anything, take them to adventures, allow them to become scientists when they are five, to observe, to learn about the world. And then they would become fantastic engineers or scientists. And I work with a lot of them”.
When asked why girls may be hesitant to pursue such occupations on the basis of gender, the Caves Spaceflight director replied: “I think it starts with language, by the way we treat people, by the way we acknowledge their ability and start telling them then they can do anything.
“That is what makes a difference, I think, is not just what they can hear from somebody like me, but what they can hear from their parents. The fact that their parents will take them to adventures.
“They have them working in going around in nice, comfy clothes and don’t just start giving dolls to them, but they give them some tools to learn, some science tool in order for them to become what they can be in the future, not just what they are when they are little”.
_Click on the above player to watch the full interview _