Antonella and Michela, in three words: What is Women in Aerospace?
Antonella: Networking, visibility, motivation.
Our big dream is to create a balance among women in all positions of the space industry in Europe. To achieve this goal, networks are very important to us: As a WIA member you have many opportunities to get in touch with people who have the same interests and similar perspectives, to interact with them and to gain inspiration and get visibility. We offer many benefits to our members. For example, we promote individual personal development through training or recognition through award ceremonies.
Michela: The entire organization is done on a volunteer basis by the specialists. This shows the great motivation behind WIA. It’s not a job you do because you have to do it. You get involved because you think there’s a gap that needs to be filled urgently. Both women and men can join us, everyone is welcome! We are all different, people and personalities with different daily workloads. But we have a common goal: Women can also become important personalities in space industry!
Your members are men and women as well?
Michela: Exactly. Everyone can become a member, whether you work in the space industry or just love the topic space. The priority is to pursue our common goal: to expand women’s opportunities for leadership positions in the space industry. WIA Bremen currently has 47 members, including men. We are all ambassadors and believe that thanks to our collaboration and a large network, we are getting closer to our goal and are also opening the women’s eyes.
Antonella: I would appreciate more feedback from our members after the events. We want to grow together and improve constantly. This is only possible with constructive criticism. Being a member is like a relationship. It’s built day by day.
You both are engineers. Tell us more about your careers. How did you get to space industry?
Michela: That’s a long story! I studied in Rome, where I come from. As part of my studies, I went to Toulouse with the Erasmus program. There I got in touch with CNES, the French space agency Center national d’études spatiales, where I also did an internship. After that I finished my Master studies and then I worked at CNES. As a space engineer, I even went to Kourou, the space port on the Atlantic coast of French Guiana, where satellites are launched. In Kourou I worked as "SAP loader facilities manager". We prepared the launch campaign for launching the satellite there. And now I'm working in Bremen as subcontractor manager for the Exomars project.
What has moved you to become a space engineer?
Michela: By chance, I would say. It was never the "dream of my life". I admit, I was always more interested in science subjects. In school I was better at it than in literature for example. But sooner or later, one is facing the big question: What now? I was always interested in the "behind". At school I went to Australia for one year as an exchange student. When you’re 17 years old and flying to the other side of the world, that’s a big deal and overwhelming. It was difficult for me at first, but that’s what gave me strength. I knew there is more! And that was it then. I decided to study space engineering and had the thought: You can do something special, something out of the ordinary. And now we are here.
Antonella: I’m also from Italy. I graduated as an aeronautical engineer with major in space. In fact, also by chance: I started with archaeological and paleontological studies. To discover or explore something has always been my goal! Then I became aware of aeronautical and maritime engineering and wanted to change my studies. So I called my mother and reported the idea. Her answer has been heard by many women already: "No! As a woman, you will later have problems bringing children and such a profession together. You will be away a lot and work full time. Now you can take the university career and work part time!" But I did not let that bother me. After my studies, space became my life. I lived in Turin, then ten years in Milan. There I met my husband; Tiziano was born there and became our motivator. After ten years in a place you rust. Through Tiziano I got a new perspective on the world. We were looking for new opportunities and are now working at OHB. Here in Bremen, I work among other things on the Alexander Gerst mission, on instrumental design or on 3D printing for the Moon Village. And the curiosity is still there.
Michela: Curiosity! That’s it! Never give up. It’s hard, to stay on track but very important. Like a child learning to walk. It falls, cries, but then gets up and tries again. At some point with success! The same applies to all steps in life. Everything is possible. The word impossible doesn’t exist.