A Feminist a Day: Sally Ride

Who is she?

sally rideSally Ride was the first American woman in space, in 1983, and the youngest American astronaut to travel in space (she was 32). Only two Russian women preceded her.

After studying physics at university, Sally answered an ad seeking applicants for the NASA space program and was one of only six women accepted into the program.

Before her first space flight, she was faced sexist and degrading questions from the media, such as: “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?” and “Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?”. She was also asked what she would do about her period in space, and if she’d wear a bra (to which she replied “there’s no sag in space”). ZING!

She was a crew member on the space shuttle Challenger, deploying communication satellites and developing a robot arm for use in space.

After her astronaut career, Sally was a physics lecturer, led public outreach programs for NASA and created science education programs for girls. She also wrote children’s books about space, hoping to encourage children to study science.

Why should we thank her?

Like Amelia Earhart, Sally inspired a generation of girls to believe they could fly. One can only imagine the barriers she faced, first in studying science in a male-dominated field, and then becoming an astronaut. She has surely inspired girls and women all over the world, and scores of women have gone to space since she shattered that glass ceiling.

Best quote

“Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see.”


A Feminist a Day: Sally Ride

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