Sally Ride's trip into space got noticed—by little girls
One of the achievements of the first American woman in space was not broadly articulated, but it spoke volumes. Legions of little girls noticed that being an astronaut was not for boys only.
Ride's life, which ended at 61 with pancreatic cancer, also taught those girls another valuable lesson. Education creates options and choices.
Her scientific training qualified her to answer an ad seeking candidates for space flight. She could compete and succeed because she was equipped to learn more. Ride joined NASA in 1978, and rode the shuttle Challenger into space in 1983.
Ride in turn added the category of astronaut to the list of opportunities and aspirations not encumbered by rules and norms about gender. Women in police uniforms, family physicians, and elected officials on TV. In big ways and small, the roles got noticed. Especially if parents nudged a bit of the recognition along the way.
President Obama called Sally Ride a national hero. Her skills, talent and courage took her into space. She also expanded the horizon of possibilities for a generation of young females behind her.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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