First African American Woman To Travel In Space To Keynote BbWorld 17
Since a very young age, Dr. Mae Jemison knew she wanted to be an astronaut. She was born in Decatur Alabama and grew up in Chicago. “I thought, by now, we’d be going into space like you were going to work.” She said it was easier to apply to be a shuttle astronaut, “rather than waiting around in a cornfield, waiting for ET to pick me up or something.” she said on the Peace Corps’ website.
In 1992 she became the first African American woman to travel to space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor. But Jemison is more than just an astronaut. She’s a physician, a college professor and she honorary doctorates in science, engineering, letters and the humanities. As for actual degrees, Jemison entered Stanford at age 16 and received her Doctor of Medicine from Cornell in 1981. She’s also a dancer, actress and has appeared on Star Trek.
In fact it was her love of Star Trek that inspired her to apply for an open position for astronaut with NASA in 1983. The 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger delayed her NASA aspirations for a bit but she reapplied and got accepted in 1987.
Dr. Jemison is an icon for civil rights, women’s rights and a huge advocate for science literacy. She’s a big believer in STEM and STEAM in the classroom. She also encourages young people to take advantage of their “place at the table”. Keynoting a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King on the campuses of Northwestern University, earlier this year, Jemison said that President’s Johnson and Kennedy helped create a place at the table for her as an astronaut.
Jemison wants to encourage more woman, girls and people of color to pursue STEM/STEAM careers. She noted in that same keynote that just 30% of diversity is currently represented in STEM/STEAM careers, that number shrinks when you add women to the mix.
This is not necessarily a good path. Those in STEM get to choose the means, methods and standards of funding, research and development. Choices are made for all from a very narrow perspective. We need to get as many perspectives as possible,” she said at that address.
BbWorld 17 attendees will get to hear the fascinating story of Dr. Jemison, her life and her career. You’ll also get to hear about the importance of STEM/STEAM careers and how all students should be able to strive to work in those fields if they want to regardless of ethnicity or sex.