home #SXSW  Jessica Meir, astronaut: Diversity, yes. But only by working as hard.

 Jessica Meir, astronaut: Diversity, yes. But only by working as hard.

It is not everyday that you can date a real astronaut. So I had to admit that I was a tiny bit nervous to spend some time with my very personal astronaut crush Jessica Meir (please, don’t tell my wife :-).)

For a boy like me, who was kicked out of astronaut school for not seeing colours very well, Jessica is rather imposing. The rebellious curls, the easy smile, the sparkling eyes – make you forget for a moment that you’re dealing with a diehard astronaut.  Jessica Meir can outsmart, outrun, outwit, outfly and outsurvive me. One-handed. While applying lipstick. So much for mansplaining.

CV, anyone?

How about this: Jessica Ulrika Meir was born in 1977. She is a professor at Harvard Medical School, and finished a postdoctoral research in comparative physiology at the University of British Columbia. As an intermezzo, she studied the diving physiology and behaviour of emperor penguins in Antarctica and the physiology of bar-headed geese, whom are able to migrate over the Himalayas.

She flies T38 fighters, and graduated with a Master of Space Studies from the International Space University. She survived a NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation. Something I can barely even spell.

Diversity is needed

Jessica Meir is convinced that diversity and gender balance are important for all great projects. Different minds, origins and gender guarantee a wider spectrum of talent, more shades of thinking, and better chances of cross-fertilisation.  Too much of the same thinking and talents creates a certain poverty for whatever project. Luckily, the time where all NASA’s astronauts were sturdy airforce pilots with testosterone hair on their teeth are long gone.

Diversity is normal

In Jessica’s world, diversity is normal. The astronauts of her class reflect an almost perfect gender and race balance. She is grateful that NASA encourages anyone to grab his or her chance, regardless of race, origin or gender.

But only by working hard

But don’t tell her more jobs should be given to women. She will cold stare you until you slowly start crumbling down into a trembling heap.  In Jessica Meirs’ world, having an equal opportunity is a right. But it’s up to you to grab that chance, and fight for what you’re worth. The world only owes you an equal chance. From there on, it’s survival, hard work and dedication. If you’re better you get a prize. If you’re the best, you can fly to the stars.

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