Inspiring the next generation of female space pioneers

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Women make up half the population, but only about a quarter of America’s science and tech workforce. Alyssa Carson is among those working to change that.

Carson is 15 years old, a step away from earning her pilot’s license, and on a mission. The Louisiana native is training to join the first team of astronauts to land on Mars.

Along her journey, Carson is helping to inspire others to stick with science, engineering and mathematics.

Carson said she often hears, “‘Oh, now I want to be an astronaut,’” after speaking about her ambitious regimen with student groups.

“I would tell anyone to find that dream and never give up,” she said in an interview while on break from Baton Rouge International School. In addition to the sciences, she is taking classes in four languages — Chinese, English, French and Spanish — so she can converse with fellow international astronauts.

She and other young girls recently got help from new legislation President Trump signed into law February 28.

Donald Trump holding up signed Inspire Women Act (© AP Images)
President Trump signed the INSPIRE Women Act on February 28. (© AP Images)

The bipartisan legislation is called Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act, and it will ramp up some of space agency NASA’s innovative recruiting programs.

Among them:

  • NASA Girls and NASA Boys lets students connect online with virtual mentors at NASA.
  • Aspire to Inspire introduces people in some of the coolest jobs at NASA to school kids.
  • Summer Institute for Science Technology, Engineering, and Research enables students to conduct experiments with scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. What preteen doesn’t want to spend a summer launching rockets?

Trump said that the passage of the INSPIRE Women Act was great news, and that he anticipates a greater proportion of women in science, technology, engineering and math.

“So I think that’s going to change. That’s going to change very rapidly,” he said.

NASA is readying a mission to Mars around 2030. Will Alyssa be ready?

“Definitely,” she said.

Will you?