Gender imbalance has long been the curse of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Women are still underrepresented in such, struggling to close the gender gap.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women compose 47% of the total U.S. workforce, but are much less represented in science and engineering occupations. They comprise 39% of chemists and material scientists, 28% of environmental scientists and geoscientists, 16% of chemical engineers and only 12% of civil engineers.
Someone is looking to change these numbers. Through her aspiration to become the first human to step on Mars, she could be the icon that will attract and inspire more women to join STEM fields.
This woman that I’m talking about is not an ordinary female, because she’s only 15 years old. And yet, almost her entire life, she has committed herself to several space training as preparation for her grand mission to Mars.
Alyssa Carson started getting interested with space at age 3. She said she does everything that every other normal kid does, except on the side she’s training to become an astronaut and go to Mars.
Being involved with trainings about space in that young age, Alyssa has set lots of records.
She has marked NASA’s books as the first person to complete the NASA Passport Program, going to all 14 NASA Visitor Centers in the US. She is also the first person to attend all of the Space Camps worldwide, and the youngest person to complete the Advanced Space Academy.
Just recently, Alyssa has been hailed as the youngest person to be accepted into Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere), a non-profit research program studying the upper atmosphere, which certifies astronaut hopefuls flying into space.
As if these achievements aren’t enough, she is now taking college-level classes, in four languages, from 10th grade. This wonderful girl has also given a TEDx talk in 2014 entitled “I am the Mars generation,” when she was only in her 7th grade at Baton Rouge International School.
One by one, Alyssa is ticking off the items on the checklist in becoming an astronaut. It won’t be impossible that NASA Blueberry, a nickname she calls herself, will become the youngest human to land on Mars given her progress.
By 2030, NASA plans to start their Mars missions. Alyssa will be 29 by then, just a few years lower than average.
NASA Stennis Space Center public affairs officer Paul Foerman believes that Alyssa is fit for this job. He says, “She’s got the right mental attitude, she’s doing everything that she can physically here on Earth to prepare herself for that journey to Mars.”
Alyssa still has a long way to go. She is now up for more training like oxygen deprivation and advanced scuba diving. Once she graduates high school, she will study science at Cambridge University in the UK and obtain masters in space engineering at International Space University in France. After, she will take astrobiology at MIT.
Her dad Bert has been supportive all the way, but he can’t bear the thought that her daughter might leave this planet for good and never come back.
“That’s hard,” he says. “But for what she’s wanting to do, I have to support her, I have to let her go. It’s bigger than the two of us.”
Despite the risks of the Mars mission, like it could just be a one-way trip, Alyssa is confident that what she reaps in this endeavour is more valuable. She says, “Even though there’s a lot of risk in going to Mars, I believe the rewards are so much greater.
“At the end of the day there’s so much good that can come from this mission.”
Her guts towards this space ambition are just admirable, which we don’t always see in normal teenagers.
Source: Science Alert