An Evening with British Space Scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE

Friday 29 October 2021

An evening with British space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock in conversation with Charlene Hunter, CEO and founder Coding Black Females


Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE is a scientist and broadcaster referred to as the BBC’s ‘face of space’. She is the presenter of the astronomical institution The Sky at Night, has fronted a number of space documentaries, and regularly appears on science and non-science programmes. From a modest background and diagnosed with dyslexia, Maggie overcame the naysayers to study at Imperial College where she obtained her degree in Physics and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. After her studies, she toured the UK speaking to inner-city schools about what scientists do and why and how to be one with the aim of inspiring the next generation of physicists. Since then she has spent her career making novel, bespoke instrumentation in both the industrial and academic environments. These instruments have ranged from hand-held land mine detectors, to an optical subsystem for the James Webb Space Telescope (the replacement for the Hubble space telescope). She has worked for the MoD on missile warning systems, and for aerospace giant, EADS, on a range of projects to monitor the earth’s atmosphere.

Maggie is a research fellow and an Honorary Research Associate at University College London, and continues her work to engage the public with science. She augments her ‘Tours of the Universe’ presentations to young and old with regular TV and radio appearances. As well as fronting The Sky at Night, Maggie has appeared in programmes including Stargazing Live, The Science of Doctor Who, and In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World. An engaging and passionate speaker, Maggie’s enthusiasm for science and learning is infectious. As well as looking at the wonders of space and what it can teach us, she also tackles science education and public understanding, and women in science and engineering.

Facilitating this evening’s event will be CEO and founder of Coding Black Females, Charlene Hunter. There will also be a panel comprised of women and girls working and studying in STEM subjects including Global Evangelist Tech Disruptor + Digital Transformation Consultant Paulette Watson, Newham scientist and educator Faiza Gul Durrani, students from London Design and Engineering University and Technical College and pupils from Maryland Primary School.

Further information on our panel:

Charlene Hunter, CEO and founder, Coding Black Females

Facilitator and panel chair for the evening, Charlene Hunter is an award-winning software developer and engineer and coder.

Charlene created Coding Black Females in 2017 as a way for Black female developers to meet other Black female developers. The orgsnisation run events to showcase the talent of Black women in tech, and support progression in tech roles.

Paulette Watson, Managing Director and founder, Academy Achievers

Born and raised in Newham, Paulette Watson understands the need for quality education for children and young people (CYP) from all backgrounds. Using her community projects, she analyses the mental inequality in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and explores the real-life experiences from children and young people’s unfair and bias treatments from the school system (being excluded) and the Police (especially now that facial recognition has severe biases).

Paulette is particularly interested in how lockdown has created a stark digital divide in the UK, with 1.9 million households with no access to the Internet and tens of millions more reliant on pay-as-you-go services to make phone calls or access healthcare, education, and benefits online. Her concerns are how the Artificial Intelligent technology tool is used across different sectors to potentially exclude BME groups.

Awards: Most Skillful Shepreneur for the Ghana Ladies in Tech (GLiT) 2021, Wintrade Global Award Women in Engineering 2019; Computer Weekly, listed on the longlist: The 50 Most Influential women in the UK Technology 2021; Nominated as the most influential women in Technology in the UK; shortlisted for the Women in Tech Excellence 2021; where I will be dedicating my win to #BeMe project for raising 1 million BME girls’ aspirations in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers

Paulette is also writing her book on black girls’ experiences in getting into the tech industry in the United Kingdom.

Faiza Gul Durani, Scientist and Educator

A PhD scientist, Faiza Gul Durrani trained and qualified in Pakistan. Having conducted extensive biological research, she has a special interest in molecular biology. Now based in Newham, Faiza has run science education groups both from her own home and local libraries.

Also on the panel will be Computer Science and Science students from London Design & Engineering University & Technical college and pupils from Maryland Primary School.

Following on from a keynote speech by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, the panel will be discussing Black women and girls studying and working in the STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, including the challenges entering these fields, how they can be overcome, positive role models and opportunities available.

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