March is Women’s History Month: one whole month dedicated to commemorate and celebrate women’s contributions to history and modern society. Now, Women@NASA joins in on the celebration as they highlight women’s accomplishments in space exploration.
Women’s plight for gender diversity and more opportunities has made a dramatic change in the last century and even more so in the last decade. NASA is no exception. With space being a male-dominated field, it is no wonder that only a small percentage of women have been given the same opportunities to explore outer space. However, times are now changing, thanks in part to the Women@NASA initiative.
Women @ NASA aims to highlight the contributions made by women to the space agency, which have been significantly greater compared to NASA’s earlier days. Today, women are not just astronauts in NASA. They are engineers, scientists, and program managers – playing vital roles in the operations of the space agency and its missions. Mamta Nagaraja, leader of the Women @ NASA program, has proudly tweeted the significant increase in female involvement, saying that 30% of supervisors in NASA are women, which is a 59% increase compared to the past decade, and that 20% of engineers are female, a 79% increase since the 1990s. Out of the 55 women who have been to outer space, 49 of them were aboard NASA missions.
The Women@NASA program, created in 2011 by NASA Open Government, encourages openness among others, with a goal of achieving transparency, participation, and collaboration within the agency. Their website highlights 64 videos and articles about NASA women who share their life journeys, struggles and achievements in the agency.
One noteworthy woman honored by the program is Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to outer space. She was one of the crew members of the shuttle, Challenger, in June of 1983 and has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. She has also received several other awards for her space, academic and professional accomplishments.
Since 2011, Women @ NASA has been adding more and more women to their website, featuring not just their achievements, but also their dreams, their journeys and their struggles to overcome obstacles.