Dr. Anousheh Ansari is Co-Founder, Chairwoman, and Chief Executive Officer of Prodea Systems. As her new company launched, on September 18, 2006 she blasted off on an eight-day expedition aboard the International Space Station and became the first female private space explorer. She was the first astronaut of Iranian descent and first Muslim woman. Kyivstar sat down to talk with her at her visit to Kyiv.
Evgenia: You are one of the greatest role models for women all over the world. How often have you run across stereotypical perception of a woman in science and business?
Anousheh: Everyday (laughing).
You run across people who have their notion of their image of a woman and you know you always have to surprise them. I like a touch of surprise. While they learn about me and start understanding what I’m doing their eyes open wider. So I like that element of surprise and shock. I hope it remains with them further. And when they see another woman they will not make an assumption about her and what she will have done, I suppose. It’s very important for a lady to keep up her influence role model for the future generations. I think media plays a big role in it and I hope that media will also change and start forming a real image of smart and successful women. There are so many smart and successful women, but they are not covered and highlighted by the media. It is incorrect and generally not good. I hope the media will change and do their best to make those role models more visible to young girls here and there to get a positive influence.
Perhaps we need more women entering the media industry.
I met a very interesting woman producer who had produced a lot of successful programs and she told me the same ideas. She told me that she wished to create a new studio, a new kind of a media company that would change the way media used to portray women from the scratch. We need people who will bring these changes out.
E.U.: It’s 9 years now since your space trip. Did you dream of change of women perception in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)? Do you feel any changes nowadays?
A.A.: I don’t think there is a tangible change. I do see a little bit of a change. Maybe some more sounds of women and entrepreneurship, but the number of those are still very low and the rate of changes is also very low. I hope that it will start growing much faster.
E.U.: Did your space trip make any influence on your business goals and the way you make business decisions?
A.A.: Well, I got my global view from that influence. When I design my solutions I always look if they can be implemented globally. So I can’t look at something on a small scale anymore. My view is at the global scale.
E.U.: Do you have any specific words in your business vocabulary like weightlessness, satellite launch, and black holes?
A.A.: Everything around my office is related to Space. Conference rooms, projects, services have their Space names. It turned out to be contagious. And everyone around me, my employees started expressing like “Let’s go to a launching platform.” I’m also a Star Trek fan, so we have all those spaceships from Star Trek, too.
E.U.: What is your entire big dream related to Space or the Earth that can tell on a certain industry and peoples’ lives?
A.A.: I think there is one that is probably more understandable and tangible for everyone is the notional space power satellite. Human population grows and it won’t be enough to rely on resources of our own planet only.
As you know scarcity and lack of resources cause wars. If we can get access to resources in Space, get safe solar energy and use that for our needs, I think it will be a big improvement.