Shenanigans 2009, the 2009 class of astronauts I am part of consists of myself and five other European professionals from different countries. The ones who see our group photo, usually immediately notice one thing: that I’m the only woman. The case also wanted me to be the first Italian astronaut and this, invariably used by the media as a middle name, generates attention and curiosity.
To be honest, being one of the subjects of the photo and not looking at it with the eyes of the public, do not pay much attention to this.
Firstly, I would like to clarify something important: there’s really nothing exceptional with this. Many female astronauts have been in space and there is no specific activity nor task, part of this profession, that they could not carry out. No one expects me to prove anything.
Secondly, I would like to make it clear that I am interested in other things. I’m an engineer, a military pilot, as well as an astronaut, there is nothing in my background that makes me an expert on gender issues. I do not have a trained eye to capture these aspects, nor the trained mind to reflect about it. In short, it is very unlikely that I have something clever and original to say about it!
In any case the curiosity of those who look at the picture remains. Admittedly, I too, as a young girl, seeing the photos and reading the stories of those who went into space, was particularly fascinated by female astronauts. Maybe because they were a minority, maybe because they were more like me. If I had met them, I think I too would have had some specific questions that I would not have asked their male colleagues.
“Pink shoes” (as a section) is dedicated to these questions. To make room for the legitimate curiosity, without “getting out of the photo”.