Reach for the stars:The inspirational story of Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock

The space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, has has been honoured with a one-of-a-kind Barbie doll in her likeness in celebration of both International Women’s Day on 8 March and British Science Week from 10-19 March.

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE is an award-winning space scientist, broadcaster and author who has worked with several educational institutions to promote the study of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)

She is an honorary research associate of University College London’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, and has been the chancellor of the University of Leicester since February 2023.

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is best known for presenting the BBC programme « The Sky at Night « 

We do often have these stereotypical images of what people do, and I like to smash those stereotypes whenever I get the opportunity.”

Maggie is awarded with a one-of-a kind Barbie doll

During her five-year role she said she wanted to influence others to find a career that worked for them regardless of their gender, race or background. Dr Aderin-Pocock said: « In the past, space science especially, was seen as male-dominated, not a very good ethnic mix and not very diverse at all.

« I was just thought of as the unintelligent one at the back, » she said.

« That is definitely changing and having prominent women in high-profile roles helps. It allows the next generation to say ‘of course we can do this and we can excel in it’ so it’s encouraging that generation, » she said.

« I want everybody within the university and beyond to be reaching for the stars.

« To work out what works for them, what they love and to have a career in that area, because if you work at what you love it’s hardly working at all. »

Diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of eight

Maggie started out hating school. “It didn’t agree with me,” she told a group of teens at the Royal Institute’s Unconference. “I used to sit at the back of the classroom.  Because of my dyslexia, my reading and writing weren’t very good at all.”

I was lucky because I got inspired by science, and I had an aptitude for it.  I remember the first time I was in a class and the teacher asked a question—it was a very simple question—I can tell you what the question was: ‘If you take a liter of water and one liter of water weighs 1 kg, how much will 1 cubic centimeter weigh?’  I sat there in the class, and I put up my hand.  It was quite obvious that it was 1 gram. I looked around, and no one else had their hand up, so my gut reaction was, ‘well, you’ve got to be wrong.’  I was going to put my hand down, and I thought, ‘no, wing it.  What the heck.’ And I was right.  I couldn’t believe that dumb Maggie in the remedial class sitting at the back could get the question right.”

Maggie has been made a “Barbie Role Model” in recognition of her achievements in making space and science accessible to girls.

She says:“I want to inspire the next generation of scientists, and especially girls, and let them know that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is for them. These subjects are just too important to be left to the guys because, through science, you can literally change the world. I hope my doll will remind girls that, when you reach for the stars, anything is possible.”

Mattel to expand the barbie career range in order to show girls more stem careers

Mattel will expand its Barbie Career range with a marine biologist doll this spring, joining STEM figures including a doctor, a vet, a scientist, and an astronaut.

Kelly Philp, Marketing director, Mattel UK, commented: “We know that globally STEM is a field widely recognised as underrepresenting women so, as a brand, Barbie is committed to showing girls more STEM careers. In the UK, research tells us women make up only 26% of the STEM workforce so showcasing an exciting career in space science like Dr Maggie’s is just one way we are inspiring girls to think differently about their career opportunities.”

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