A salute to Sally Ride

Gloria Steinem wrote:

No one on earth — or in space — could have created a more complete heroine than Sally Ride.

She came from a family of strong and barrier-breaking women — a mother who devoted her life to working with women in prison and a sister who was a pioneering minister.

She was a physicist and astrophysicist when she answered a classified ad to become an astronaut — and also an English major, a Shakespeare scholar and a tennis champion.

She survived with good grace a global barrage as the first American woman in space, including endless jokes about everything from menstruation to bathroom privacy.

She reminded reporters that women had qualified to be astronauts in the very first class, but had been ruled out only because they were women.

She was always mindful of being a role model for little girls with big dreams. She was more likely to spend time with Girl Scouts than with celebrity interviews, and she wrote a half dozen science books for children.

She was kind towards people around her. She greeted challenges not with fear or competitiveness but with joy at doing the thing itself.

I am very lucky that our paths crossed. If we let her keep on inspiring us, then Sally Ride is with us still.

Sally Ride was the first American woman and the youngest astronaut to fly in space. She encouraged girls to dream. Gloria Steinem said, “Millions of little girls are going to sit by their television sets and see they can be astronauts, heroes, explorers and scientists.” We should not forget that in a male dominated astronaut community, Sally Ride often felt uncomfortable when she was asked to tell the details of her menstrual cycle and how that might affect her time in space, whether she would wear a bra or makeup and whether she would cry on the job.

Those days are not yet gone. Those days will be gone if equal number of men and women become scientists, physicists, astronauts, heroes, explorers, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, technical experts, pilots,doctors, as well as writers, artists, historians, academics, administrators, politicians, decision makers etc. If it happens, we will know that there is no space in society for sexism, and no space is completely male dominated.