NASA recently convened a group of technologists to discuss the value of the Agency’s data holdings. The group included astronauts, engineers, Chief Technology Officers, designers, and the new Deputy Administrator at NASA. And they were all women. I briefly crashed the meeting — and I was the only man in the room of powerful technologists. That has never happened to me before. This event, called Women in Data, kicked off an initiative to bring external tech perspectives into the agency — in a sustainable and productive way.
I noted the difference to a colleague at NOAA, who smiled and said that she is often the only female software engineer in technical meetings. I’m not trying to make a statement. I’m just noting that the self-awareness associated with being the only man in the room changed the way I interacted with my colleagues in the room. I never think about this. I never have to think about it. I just sort of say what I want, when I want.
Dr. Nancy Roman with a model of the Orbiting Solar Observatory
I related this story to Nancy Roman, the Mother of Hubble and a fellow Swarthmore College alum — albeit one that ...