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Deborah Bass
Deputy Science Team Chief
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

P2K: Communication does not normally seem to most people probably to be the essence of a space science mission. You have science whizzes, and you have to have really clever engineers that can get widgets to work together. Why is "communication" so important?

Deborah Bass: Because you have to get the guys who design the widgets to talk to the guys who are the real science whizzes, and sometimes they talk different languages. And so you have to be able to bridge those gaps otherwise they can't work as a team. And so I'm kind of the glue in some ways between those two different groups.

P2K: You said "the guys" and that makes me think about "the gals" on the mission. To what extent is space and engineering still a man's world, and to what extent is it something where anybody, male, female, of whatever background, can have a role?

Deborah Bass: If you want to do it, I say don't let anything stop you. But the fact is that there are more men at this point than women. When I was an undergraduate I had a teaching assistant who was helping out the professor in the class and she was this beautiful woman. She dressed extremely well. She just looked like... she didn't look like your prototypical geologist as, they say. And I thought, you know what, if she can do this, so can I. I don't have to always wear combat boots and t-shirts. I don't have to do that. If there's room for her, there's room for me and if there's room for me there's room for somebody else too.

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