March 26, 2021
NASA space launch

Associate professor of history Amy Foster joined WMFE to speak about the first female astronauts at NASA and her book Integrating Women into the Astronaut Corps: Politics and Logistics at NASA. Foster shared that in the 1970s, NASA’s focus on the Space Shuttle program opened the door for women to become astronauts.

Along the way, the women — all of whom were scientists or physicians — faced mockery and judgment, but they knew they were setting an important precedent.

“They understood themselves as heroes for girls, you know, and young women who were coming up through comparable ranks,” Foster says.

Now, Foster says NASA is doing well when it comes to gender diversity, with the last two classes of astronauts having a mostly equal number of men and women. She attributes this to the increase in opportunity for women in the military and the number of women who are now earning advanced degrees in science, engineering and medicine.

Continue reading the full piece at WMFE.