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WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

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9 comments

Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

Posted November 19, 2013 10:57 AM by CR4 Guest Author

The world of engineering, technology and science is often associated with men, but if you look around this trend is starting to turn on its head. If you put on the television or listen to the news you will see and hear that there are inspiring women dominating these fields, and recently the space NASA program reported they hired more women to come on board the program. Jobs are evolving, technology is enhancing and more women are being encouraged to get involved in science, space and engineering.

The universal success from television programmes such as The Big Bang Theory, and Countdown with a young mathematical genius Rachel Riley means just one thing: being smart is cool for women. The 'nerds' as we are often referred to as are the heroes of today. More and more women are being attracted to successful careers in science and engineering because of the female nerds that are leading the way and may it long continue. Space in itself may be the final frontier, but women are the ones spearheading the exploration.

Adventurous Female Explorers

Did you know that the first woman in space was the adventurous factory worker Valentina Tereshkova? She was actually chosen out of 400 applicants to become a Soviet cosmonaut, launching the Vostok 6 Mission in 1963. She was the fifth Russian to go into space and was entrusted to attempt the first docking manoeuvre with another spaceship. Incredibly forward-thinking for the time!

What is inspiring is not only was this the first female into space but the Prime Minister Khrushchev spoke of his fatherly pride for her - she was a propagandists' dream and nicknamed the Greta Garbo of space, much was made of her gender and looks, something that her male colleagues never encountered. Nevertheless, she paved the way at such an early stage for women in space. Sadly, it was another twenty years before the next woman entered space, and it was another Russian called Svetlana Savitskaya, who was also the first woman to complete a spacewalk in 1984. image source

Then you have Sally Ride, who was the first American woman in space, aged 32. The Physics graduate from Stanford University answered an advert from NASA and joined the team in 1978. Just five years later she had been integral to communications in two shuttle flights and developed a robotic arm for the shuttle. In 1983, she was then chosen for a space flight. During a press conference, much like Tereshkova twenty years previously, the focus was on her gender. The reaction was perhaps even more vehement than her Soviet counterpart met. Ride had to field incredible questions such as, "Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?" and "Do you weep if things go wrong on the job?" However, since then there have been 45 female US astronauts and their organs and weeping are all normal.

In It To Win It

You may not be aware but sometimes a competition through a radio advertisement can get you to Space. Yes, the first British woman in space was chemist Helen Sharman from Sheffield, who visited the Mir Space Station in 1991 when she beat 13,000 other contestants to win her place in space. Whist Sharman was orbiting space, she was involved in the agricultural and medical testing which was a fascinating adventure for her.

At just 27 years old, she was the fifth youngest person in space (out of the 528 people who have been in space). As Helen states in the video below it was something she never expected and did not attend to follow on as an astronaut in her career path but one moment changed everything and so can a moment for you if you grasp that opportunity.

Now, as space shifts into the tourism industry there is a whole new exploration dimension. It is worth mentioning that the first woman space tourist was Iranian-American entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari in 2006. Space is fast becoming a female friendly industry, with four women serving together simultaneously on the International Space Station in 2010.

Social Media Following

If space, science and engineering are areas that pique your interest, you should now follow the newest and the best astronauts' careers and experiences via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+. Social networks are a really good way to keep up with the latest trends and developments of individuals exploring so do get using these social streams.

Karen Nyberg is the one to follow at the moment (@AstroKarenN). She is currently in space and posts breathtaking pictures of and views from the International Space Station. She is the embodiment of an ambitious career mom. Juggling life aboard the Space Station, her family life back home and being on camera all week, she is a hero. image source

The ones to watch in the future are NASA's new crop; announced recently and include equal female-to-male ratio. The successful women in the latest AstroClass are Christina Hammock, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir and Nicole Mann (all aged 34-35). They are highly qualified and from a number of different backgrounds including the military and science.

As you can see the stumbling blocks have been overcome and the future of women in space is bright and varied.

Editor's Note: Jenny Ann Beswick is a graduate of engineering who has worked in various fields of engineering work. Her experience within the industry started through a scientific role through her telegraph jobs in engineering and since then her work has branched off and led her to project manage construction sites and develop strategies.

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#1

Re: Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

11/19/2013 11:54 AM

One of my favorites has always been Barbarella....

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Re: Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

11/19/2013 12:11 PM

Then there's Princess Aura, Ming the merciless's daughter...

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Re: Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

11/19/2013 3:38 PM

I find both of your postings a gross insult to all the women who have made significant contributions to science and technology. Sure the actresses are hot, but that is just fantasy.

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Re: Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

11/19/2013 5:40 PM

Is this better?

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Re: Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

11/20/2013 10:57 PM

For those who may not know, that is Lalla Ward, aka Mrs. Richard Dawkins.

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Re: Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

11/19/2013 6:54 PM

I resent your implication that the artistic contributions of these two great actors is somehow less than some other women in other but related fields.....Surely these artists have inspired others to pursue careers in space....

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Re: Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

11/19/2013 7:18 PM

In some cases just to get away!

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Re: Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

11/20/2013 5:07 AM

You have forgotten Ms.Chawla who died while returning back to earth in space shuttle.

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Re: Women Who Inspire in Space and Science

11/20/2013 8:25 AM

RIP Christa McAuliffe

I was living in New Hampshire at the time. What a tragedy!

Hooker

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