International Day of Women and Girls in Science

International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated globally this year on 11 February 2023, is a UN-led initiative to highlight and promote the critical role that women play in science.

As organisers of Pioneers of Tomorrow, we are proud to support days such as this which celebrate the inspirational figures in our industry.

Inspired by our colleagues at ADS, who recently named their meeting rooms after pioneering women from the aerospace, aviation and defence industries, we have decided to create our own list and pay tribute to some of the trailblazing women who are making headway in the world of aerospace, aviation and defence sectors today.

Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Space Scientist and Presenter

Maggie’s dreams of becoming an astronaut when she was a child were somewhat halted when teachers told her she was not smart enough due to her dyslexia. Driven to prove them wrong, Maggie went on to excel in her academic career achieving a BSc in Physics and completing her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, both at Imperial College London.

Maggie is now a familiar face on our screens, with presenting and guest appearances on The Sky at Night, Stargazing, QI and numerous documentaries. She is passionate about inspiring the younger generations to take up STEM subjects, regularly speaking at schools and colleges to highlight the need for more diversity within the workforce.  

Dr Aderin-Pocock pictured above at Space-Comm Expo 2022, hosted at Farnborough International.

Zara Rutherford, Belgian-British Aviator

At just 19 years old, Zara became the first person to complete a circumnavigation in a microlight aircraft and the youngest female pilot to fly solo around the world.

Through her achievements she hopes to inspire other young girls to get involved in STEM activities and make a step towards closing the gender gap.

In September 2022, Zara began studying for her undergraduate degree at Stanford University.

Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall

Melissa heads up one of the most talked about companies within the space sector right now, Spaceport Cornwall. After spending the last several years advocating for space launches from UK soil, she spearheaded the ambition to set up a spaceport in Cornwall and enable satellite launch capability.

Many would have seen her interviews surrounding the UK Launch project in January 2023, which although sadly unsuccessful, demonstrated the huge opportunities for young professionals to get involved in the future of the UK space sector.


Captain Yasmeen Fraidoon, Pilot

Passionate about aviation from a young age, Yasmeen did not always believe her dream of becoming a pilot could be realised. She initially undertook a career in the business information sector before seeing an advert to join a pilot training programme at Gulf Air.

Yasmeen excelled through her hard work and determination, and soon enough became Gulf Air’s first female Bahraini Captain. She now speaks openly about the challenges she faced and encourages more women to follow her into the profession.

Hear more from Yasmeen in her FINN interview, recorded at the Bahrain International Airshow 2022.

Rosemary Coogan, ESA Astronaut

Rosemary has truly soared into the limelight in recent months, following the announcement that she was one of three Britons selected in the next class of ESA Astronauts.

She followed an academic path initially, completing her undergraduate and Master’s degree at the University of Durham before earning her Doctorate at the University of Sussex. Throughout her youth, Rosemary was also member of the Sea Cadets and later the Royal Navy Reserves.

After gaining vital experience at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the French space agency CNES in Paris, Rosemary was successfully announced as an ESA astronaut in November 2022. She follows in the footsteps of British Astronauts Helen Sharman and Tim Peake.

Adva Amir, Pilot and CEO

Adva relocated to the US from Israel, to follow her dream of becoming a pilot. She now utilises her platform, as a First Officer for SkyWest Airlines, to raise awareness about gender disparity and the prejudice she still faces today.

By focusing on combating stereotypes and highlighting role models, she hopes to inspire more women into the aviation industry.

Watch her TEDx talk, ‘How Women Can Change the World of The Aviation Industry’


Which scientific figures inspire you? Join the conversation on our social media channels.


Learn more:

United Nations: International Day of Women and Girls in Science

United Nations: Gender bias research

FINN Interview with Jenny Body, former President of the Royal Aeronautical Society

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