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Swiss women in space

Far more men have been to space than women. Now the European Space Agency ESA is looking for new staff and is keen on hiring women.

To be considered, you need a master’s degree in a STEM subject (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), a medicine degree or a pilot’s license. The problem is that many girls in school consider STEM subjects to be a male domain.

Gabriela Pejic believes reforms are needed to make them more attractive to girls. She is a chemist and headmistress at the Menzingen cantonal school in the central Swiss canton of Zug. She’s also a member of the MINT Women’s Network at the University of Passau in Germany, which supports women working in or studying STEM subjects (‘MINT’ in German). 

“Only a small proportion of girls at academic schools choose STEM subjects and go on to study them at university. Only 30 % of students are female at the Federal Institutes of Technology. The MINT Women’s Network wants to change that,” says Pejic.

MINT particularly focuses on early advancement of young talent in research and teaching, increasing the proportion of women in professorships and decision-making bodies, as well as improving the compatibility of studies, career and family life.

One Swiss woman who may have the right stuff to make it into space is Deborah Müller, an engineer and manager at the space company RUAG. She has applied for astronaut training with ESA and if successful she could become a great role model for other women in Switzerland.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

This video belongs to a four-part series by SWI to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR