A message of encouragement for girls and young women around the world comes from Spanish biotechnologist Sara García, who invites them to stop putting limits on their female dreams, even if it is to go to NASA.
Sara García is among the candidates for astronaut positions at the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. She works as a scientist at the National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) and was the protagonist of an animated talk with the EFE agency during the "Mom, I Want to Be an Astronaut" event, which was part of the Madrid Book Fair agenda in early June 2023.
Sara García's words are backed by a 34-year-old woman who has worked hard to achieve her goals. Last year, she was selected by NASA from 23,000 applicants to be promoted as an astronaut. During an encounter with hundreds of students at the Aula Magna in the Rabanales Campus of the University of Córdoba (UCO), she said that her passion for science was inherent in her and she never stopped seeking opportunities to learn more.
García is against any obstacles that hinder women's professional aspirations in any discipline. Her own professional experience is an example of how to overcome them: "It is necessary to overcome gender stereotypes in the professional field and the freedom of choice as empowerment," she stated in an interview with the newspaper elDía de Córdoba at the university.
We are changing
In a conversation with the website efeminista.com, Sara García shows her commitment not only to science but also to women around the world. She is concerned that both girls and teenagers engage in self-censorship: "Sometimes, it is ourselves who limit or think that we are not sufficiently prepared, or that maybe we won't succeed or will make mistakes or fail."
Fortunately, says García, many women scientists who have been invisible for years are now making headlines for their achievements in various fields, which constitutes a positive change.
After completing 18 months of intelligence, sociological, and technical tests, Sara is the first Spanish woman to be on the list of 17 reserve astronauts awaiting an opportunity to travel to space if NASA increases its missions. The first step for her has already been achieved. Interestingly, she accessed this opportunity through a news article she read in the newspaper. She dared to send her resume to the space agency, and today she adds that achievement to her professional career.
It was not easy
It was by no means easy for Spanish astronaut candidate Sara García to write her name among those chosen by NASA. In an interview with magasIN, she recounted the details of the process: "The training has been very self-taught because you cannot prepare for it. You don't know what they will ask you in the exams, how the tests will be, or the types of assessments they will subject you to. As an applicant for the position, you try to learn everything you can about the ESA: improve your knowledge of physics, mathematics, and all your skills. But there are things you cannot do anything about. You can train for an intelligence test, but in the end, you are who you are. They were more medical tests than physical ones. If you have any kind of condition, no matter how much you want it, you cannot change it. You try to give your best, but there is no syllabus; you are going in blind. Every test has been a surprise."
Being accepted was not the end. García's future is marked by work responsibilities with ESA and training to continue her journey to space, which includes a course in space medicine, analog missions on Earth, events for the benefit of space exploration, and outreach activities. Although she is listed as a backup astronaut, her time to participate in an extraterrestrial mission will come.