Maggie Aderin Pocock
Born in London to Nigerian parents in the late sixties, Maggie moved between 13 schools during her childhood, struggling to show her potential in the face of what she later recognised as dyslexia. It was her dream of space travel that provided the ballast in those difficult years. Having worked on space satellites designed to collect data for climate research, Aderin-Pocock is no stranger to the strength of feeling regarding issues of global warming.
Given her candid approach to science and verve for communication, it wasn’t long before her quest to invoke a societal sea change got a boost: the BBC wanted her on board for its new wave of science programmes, leading to Aderin-Pocock’s 2011 documentary on the moon and, a year later, a documentary on satellites.
Changing the stereotype of scientists, and TV personalities, from being white and male, she believes, lies in targeting the ambitions of children, showing them their scientific heritage and chipping away at preconceptions. “I have been trying to get out there and show people, show black kids, that to be a scientist isn’t an odd thing,” she explains. “Again it is these stereotypes – many kids will see black sports people, black singers, but they won’t see a black scientist and so they eliminate that from their hit list of things to do.”