Oral history of British science
Aderin-Pocock, Maggie (4 of 14). An Oral History of British Science
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2013-08-15, 2013-08-22, 2013-09-26, 2014-01-14, 2014-02-13, 2014-04-03
British Library, London
Aderin-Pocock, Maggie, 1968- (speaker, female)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 4: Detailed comments on scientists admired as a child: Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan [CS] (including details of CS’s TV programme ‘Cosmos’) and Albert Einstein [AE]. [6:02] Comments on limited awareness, as a child, of female scientists other than Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin; tendency for school children in audiences for own talks/presentations to perceive science as a male career (mentions own use of female scientist role models in these talks); lack of awareness, as a child, of any ethnic minority (in the context of the UK) scientists; inspiration of self as a child by white, male scientists due to own interest in the content of their scientific work and the characters (rather than appearance) of individual scientists. [8:30] Detailed comments on own ways of coping with dyslexia in writing of PhD thesis, with related story of writing late at night on boyfriend’s (future husband’s) computer. Comments on finishing of PhD while employed in first job in the MOD’s [Ministry of Defence] DERA [Defence Evaluation and Research Agency], with related story. [15:01] Comments on own feelings about tendency to be chosen to appear in photographs in IC brochures/prospectuses; content/framing of these photographs. [16:37] Story of period of time applying for jobs following PhD in 1993, including account of visit to BAE Systems establishment in Manchester, interview at DERA, Malvern, Worcestershire for job involving LCD [Liquid Crystal Displays] research, successful invited application for job in DERA Air Systems based at the Royal Aircraft Establishment [RAE], Farnborough. Mentions future husband’s completion of PhD, employment at IC; own commute to RAE. Description of scientific problem worked on at RAE involving development of missile warning systems [MWS] for military aeroplanes, involving software development and fieldwork (on test track at Pendine Sands, South Wales) to photograph missile plumes. Comments on role in equipping aircraft to take photographs on missile plumes, involving liaison with MOD Boscombe Down [BD] aircraft testing site. Mentions feeling comfortable in all-male environment of BD, in contrast to feelings of unease during visit to BAE Systems, Manchester. [25:49] [speaking to daughter] Detailed comments on ‘strained’ relations with boss at RAE, with related stories. Comments on own keenness to work hard (related by self to dyslexia) and progress in career, noticed by fellow PhD students, and at odds with perceived tendency for RAE/DERA Air Systems staff to regard their work as a stable, relatively static ‘job for life’. [interruption] [28:49] Comments on period of months between leaving IC and finding first job, including effect on self. [interruption] [30:19] Further comments on visit to BAE Systems establishment in Manchester. [32:36] Mentions ‘girlie calendars’ on wall of BAE Systems workshops and office of boss’ boss at DERA. [interruption - speaking to daughter]
Life story interview with space scientist and television presenter, Maggie Aderin-Pocock.