Sally Ride Reminds Us That One Thing Hasn't Changed For Female Astronauts

In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel into space. Today, PBS Digital Studio released a short animated film featuring an interview between Ride and Gloria Steinem from that very same year. It’s a great retrospective on Ride’s early career—but it’s also a reminder that obnoxious gender biases have tailed female astronauts for a very long time.

By many measures, space exploration has come a long way since Sally Ride’s first trip into orbit. We have a phenomenal orbital station collecting a wide array of data on our planet every minute. We’re watching private companies build reusable rockets and asteroid mining gear. We’ve explored Pluto, and discovered strong evidence for a ninth planet in the far reaches of our solar system.

You know what hasn’t changed? The absurd questions we ask female astronauts about hair, makeup, and how they deal with being emotional human beings in close quarters. Listen to Sally Ride talk about it, and tell me the aspects of Ride’s career the media obsessed over in early 80s don’t sound maddeningly familiar.


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Considering we are almost 100% certain that woman’s bodies are better suited for space its does make a ton of sense to have the gender bias. Of the 534 people who have been to space, only 57 have been women.

Side note, I enjoyed how the book SevenEves didn’t seem to display a bias at all when discussing their capabilities. If you have not read it yet, give it a chance. They even discuss what they do with their hair in orbit.