May 30th: Peter Carl Faberge & Helen Sharman

Today’s Google Doodle highlights Peter Carl Fabergé, the artist and jeweler responsible for the famed Fabergé eggs. His is the 15th Doodle shown in the United States in 2012; at this point, even if the very next Doodle highlights a woman, that would only equal 6.25% representation — not where I expect an organization like Google to be.

Here, we’ll be looking outside the United States, toward the United Kingdom, which sends many visitors to each entry at Speaking Up. This time, our post will honor Helen Sharman, born on May 30th in 1963, a PhD chemist who was the first British person (and, accordingly, the first British woman) in space.

Sharman participated in Project Juno, which was a collaboration between the Soviet Union and British businesses, as the United Kingdom did not have a human spaceflight initiative. At only 26 years of age, Sharman was selected out of 13,000 candidates to train to visit the Mir space station. After 18 months of intense training in Moscow’s Star City, on May 18, 1991, at age 27, she became one of the youngest people ever to travel in space.

Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut.

Today, she works as a science communicator and educator (a field near-and-dear to my heart) and as a chemist at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory. Helen Sharman has been awarded the Order of the British Empire and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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