In October, the media reported on the world’s first all-female team of spacewalkers. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir repaired a broken part on the International Space Station’s power supply.
They weren’t the first female astronauts or spacewalkers. Sally Ride was the first female in space in 1983 and a year later, Kathy Sullivan became America’s first female spacewalker. Yet, last month’s event, was the first time that females alone performed work that traditionally had been assigned to male astronauts, proving the sky’s not the limit for females.
While current news cycles move at the speed of light, often self-destructing quickly, the female spacewalkers’ activities deserved more publicity. Female successes in traditionally male fields often receive less attention and fewer rewards.
The female spacewalkers illustrate the improved opportunities for females to succeed in non-traditional careers. On the other hand, the “#MeToo” movement reminds us that there are unstated boundaries and hidden problems for females in many fields.
The U.S. Women’s national soccer team that won the international competition this year is a case in point. In March 2019 the team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit and this month a judge granted a class action status to the claim, which includes institutional gender discrimination involving inequality in pay, practice time, locations, medication treatment, coaching and travel. It’s time to level this playing field.
2020 will mark a century since the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Before that, voting was limited to a select group of males. Excuses for keeping the ballot from females were numerous and ridiculous. They included females were too busy with household chores, too emotionally unstable and uneducated. The prime justification for limiting females’ political voices was that husbands could and should make such judgments. The idea that females could be independent, competent and fully able to make major decisions was unacceptable then. A small minority still clings to that view.
Today’s world for females, especially in developed countries, has changed and will continue to so. The humorous comment that came of age in the mid-1900s, “A women’s place is in the house … and the Senate” has come to fruition. Currently, close to one quarter in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are female; it’s only a matter of time before a female is elected president. Our forefathers couldn’t fathom this idea, but no female could make today’s White House any more dysfunctional than it is already.
America’s space program went into high gear after the USSR (Russia’s former governmental entity) launched Sputnik in 1957. Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova went into space in 1963. Although American females, such as Katherine Johnson, calculated mathematical space trajectories from the early days of NASA, they were not included in active space-related activities until 1978.
2020 will be the hundredth anniversary of ratification of the 19th amendment, changing the way our country functioned. There will be celebrations and speeches noting the great advances that women have made this century as scholars, athletes, politicians, astronauts and more. Hopefully, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team will prevail in court. A newspaper reported, that after observing the female astronauts’ spacewalk, some middle-school students produced a sign reading, “The sky is not the limit.” So true.