SGAC is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 World Space Week Contests in the Philippines! This competition, developed in collaboration by SGAC and the Philippine Space Agency, aimed to share lessons learned and ideas to promote diversity and equality. After the panel discussion on “Exchanging Lessons Learned: Gender Diversity and Equality in Space”, participants wrote an essay or made a poster in connection with the theme “Diversity and Equality in Space”.



1st Place: Making Space for Women in Space
by Julianne Marc Tamayo

Making Space for Women in Space

One of my earliest astronomy memories is reading a Magic Tree House Research Guide entitled ‘Space’. I was ten; and until now I have never forgotten its last pages: Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, stated that the first person to land on Mars is alive today, probably working on a science project right now; and the authors concluded the book with “maybe the kid Sally Ride is talking about is you!”

Ten words. Ten words and I grew up wanting to understand and explore the universe.

Truth be told, I never had a shortage of female role models, so it never crossed my mind that I was not up for the task solely because of my gender. However, as the years went by, I started to face sexism. 

In school, we learn about “gender roles”. Women are homemakers and men go outside to work. I would hear that men are better drivers and women are not fit to be presidents. Out of 218 Physics Nobel Laureates, only four are women. In textbooks, we learn about Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepard, but not Valentina Tereshkova. In fifth grade, struggling with a math activity, I approached our teacher. Instead of telling me where our group went wrong, he said we could not solve the problem because there were no boys in our group, even if I had the highest grade in the entire class for Mathematics.

During the discussion on “Exchanging Lessons Learned: Gender Diversity and Equality in Space”, Ms. Carla Sharpe, Africa Programme Manager, South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, stated, “The only difference between me and other girls is I believed I could.” I agree, and I know that I am a woman, not just a woman. Films and documentaries like “Hidden Figures” and “Mercury 13” highlight the contributions of women in the space industry while battling discrimination. If we deny women opportunities, we deny ourselves advancements.

Apart from gender empowerment, men should also learn that women are capable of excelling in science. Included in the conversation was this: “So many of these discussions are filled with women, but it’s not women’s minds we need to change; it’s men’s.” More males should get involved in talks of gender diversity, regardless of how much this world suits them already.

When most people think about astronomy, what comes to their minds are space exploration, stars, planets, and rockets. Rarely acknowledged are social issues. As a science writer, I’m proactive in addressing how space is more than numbers and scientific challenges; it can be considered STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, A for “any other subjects” — as jokingly said in the panel discussion. In communicating science to the public, taking all these into account is essential.

With issues lingering as the clock continuously ticks, the space sector entails more than just exploring what’s out there; because in order to reach the stars, we must first instill harmony and collaboration on the ground, including making space for women in space.

Hidden Figures (2017) Directed by Theodore Melfi. [Film]. USA: 20th Century Fox.
Mercury 13 (2021) Directed by Heather Walsh & David Sington. Available at: Netflix (Accessed: 21 September 2021) (2018). All Nobel Prizes in Physics. [online] Available at:
Osborne, W., Osborne, M. P., and Murdocca, S. (2011). Space: a nonfiction companion to Magic tree house #8: Midnight on the moon. New York: Random House.

2nd Place: Space ZERO: Launching Inclusivity,
Equality, and Diversity (IED) into the Workspace

by Sittie Aliezah Datucaca

Space ZERO: Launching Inclusivity,
Equality, and Diversity (IED) into the Workspace

A question: what is the dissimilarity measure between the proximity of x and y if they are equally valued? 

The space sector is in the necessity of labor forces such as scientists, engineers, and technicians. By scientists, the primary requirement is merit in particular branches of science namely Physics, Astrophysics, Astronomy, Meteorology, etc. depending on the demands of the certain nature of scientific duties; by engineers, the quality of an individual in analyzing mathematical concepts and relationships between quantities, and the ability to construct sustainable instruments and machines are what qualify us as one; and by technicians, the eminence in designing, developing, navigating, repairing, testing, and installing electronic- or software-related projects is the paramount qualification. To be a scientist, an engineer, or a technician does not necessitate us at the expense of our gender, race, religion, and age. The aforementioned are negatively correlated to the innateness of these works within the workplace thus independent in nature. These shall not be a basis nor an obstruction to getting into such fields. More so, restricting diversity within a cluster in fear of an unconventional atmosphere within the workplace is a futile stance of a stereotypic character.

Diversity within groups is as essential as how a recipe works with a variety of ingredients; each has its unique contribution to enrich the dish and make a bestseller out of it. Homogeneity tends to result in a shallow range of perception that affects the group’s general mantra, principles, and values; it connotes subjectivity and moral imbalance. Practicing inclusivity within an agency is an integral part of work ethics and a massive movement of accumulating diverse experience to conveniently identify the variety of effective approaches and solutions to eccentric and spontaneous circumstances that might arise. Every origin, for instance, in cultural context, has its distinct struggle, therefore adapting diversified environment is a smart position in achieving an efficient force in counterattacking probable conflicts. This might actually give birth to relevant researches not just to the mainstream society but even to the minorities due to being represented inside the organization.

Consistency in adapting inclusivity within the workplace could be inconsistent per se due to dynamic administrations. The major stance to preserve such quality is reforming the core vision, mission, and values of the organization integrating goals and rules with respect to just treatment regardless of origin, gender, and age, especially in the realm of job qualification. Furthermore, conducting intercultural space summits and field demonstrations could also aid the organization to promote inclusivity, equality, and diversity by showcasing to the public that it is explicitly practiced and recognized.

After all, our differences are just opinions. It takes a horizontal orientation of perceiving things to avoid creating unnecessary margins that might isolate some sectors away from the limelight. Therefore, if the variables are equally valued, treated, and discerned, dissimilarity would yield to zero.

3rd Place: Diversity and equality
as the key factor for our space future

by Alexis Caratozzolo

Diversity and equality as the key factor for our space future

Throughout the history of humankind, we have gone through different periods characterized by social behaviors that have had a great impact on the evolution of science and technology. It could be noticed that the greatest advances and developments have been based on the participation of great diversity and equality, and fortunately, this trend is growing steadily today.

It is obvious that teamwork is vital and of great importance in any aspect of life, and even when in past times various sectors tried to impose the idea of an individual “scientific privilege” reserved for certain people, it was obvious not only that this path was not the correct one, but also that it was insufficient to carry out developments that exceeded simple concepts. Diversity and equality in technological and development challenges proved to be the key to ushering in a new era of science in the world. The difference between regions or countries where education and scientific participation is free and equally promoted and where prohibitions still exist is noticeable.

There is no doubt that there are no differences that justify any type of segmentation by gender, religious or political beliefs, and the only correct answer, as has been shown in recent history with the different cases that we see, is that everybody has per se the right to educate and develop as a professional, and to take part in the scientific fields that they wish with no other requirements than the knowledge and the desire to contribute to humankind.

The space sector is perhaps the one that exposes any type of decision and work style, since being so high complexity and difficulty, the importance of diversity and equality is even more noticeable. When education is promoted equally, and people seek to work with the most suitable professionals, equality and diversity are inevitable (in a good meaning of the concept), and it is there where the best results are achieved, without this being possible in any other way.

With this in mind, for my part, I will try to promote research and development projects looking to work with participants of different characteristics and regions who can contribute with their knowledge and participate freely, encouraging the most relegated sectors to be part of the space science and being part of this change, aiming to change the vision of the most conservative companies, countries, and sectors.

Last but not least, I think that the last frontier when it comes to diversity and equality is placed in the economic and educational differences that exist between countries and regions around the globe. To solve this problem, the impulse and help that the main organizations and countries can give will be key, providing opportunities and knowledge with the objective that, to be part of the space sector, the only requirements will be to desire it and to work hard for it.


1st Place: Sic itur ad astra by KangSan Kim
by Antonio Stark

PSA - 1st - Sic itur ad astra

Known for hard work and creativity, the people of the Philippines can work together in reaching for the stars (as seen in the helmet, reflecting PhilSA’s logo) allowing anyone and everyone to take part regardless of gender, ethnicity, and individual features.  The stream of colors towards the helmet shows how the road to becoming an astronaut and being amongst the star have, and come from many ways. This also looks like the hair of the various people, including “unnatural” hair colors that have, for many years, symbolized the LGBTQ+ movement. Taken together, this piece showcases the Philippines’ potential in rising to the stars by utilizing the value of diversity and equality as an emerging space nation.

2nd Place: Diversity and Equality in Philippine Space
by Dhonalhee Jacob

PSA - 2nd - Diversity and Equality in Philippine Space

Diversity and equality issues are being combatted, but men and women in the space sector can be seen working together despite distinctions of thoughts, experiences, age, culture, gender, and others. Truly, different perspectives are noteworthy. They give off deeper understanding and better prospects for they create innovative ideas and impart flexibility in work.

3rd Place: For Future Equality and Safety Exploration:
Space Junk Must Be Taken Action

by Mark Sienes

PSA - 3rd - For Future Equality and Safety Exploration

How can we; the future explorer and for the next generation, safely and surely succeed on further space missions? If and only millions of tiny inches or centimeters of metallic debris are left behind, just circling around our planet and still increasing by number.

So, with the little presentation; my poster conveys the equality and unity of humans on earth to slowly collect our own trash which unendingly orbiting our home. Although the process seems costly and needs a lot of effort, through each country’s support we can make it possible as one.

About the Event

A panel discussion on “Exchanging Lessons Learned: Gender Diversity and Equality in Space” was organized by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) and the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) to celebrate the 2021 World Space Week’s theme, “Women in Science.” In coordination with Our Giant Leap, SGAC’s initiative to promote diversity and gender equality, various speakers were invited to share lessons about diversity, inclusivity, and equality in the space industry from different regions of the world.