Sally Ride: The First American Feminist in SpaceDr.
Sally K. Ride was an American astronaut and the firstAmerican woman in space. She was born on May 26, 1951 to parents Dale and CarolRide. Dr. Ride’s father was a considerably progressive man; however, her motherwas a hardcore feminist. She read Ms. Magazine as soon as it was available inthe 1970s and believed that women could and should do anything that they wantedto (Bilger, 2014).
As a teenager, Ride was veryfond of sports and even started playing tennis in the 1960s, which also happento be when a large portion of women’s sports issues were emerging. The Women’sTennis Association was founded and fought for equality at this time and waslocated not far from Dr. Ride’s childhood home (Bilger, 2014). While shegravitated toward the scientific field of work during her junior high and highschool years, Dr.
Ride never planned to be an astronaut, saying, ”I guess if you had asked me when I was 10years old whether I wanted to be an astronaut, I would have said yes” (Stevens,1982). After high school, Dr. Ride went to Stanford University and earnedseveral degrees in physics. Yet, flying into space never became a tangiblepossibility until her final few weeks at Stanford. In the local newspaper,there was an advertisement for NASA. They were taking applications for astronauttraining, but even though a long list of qualifications followed, Dr. Riderecalled, ”I looked at the list of credentials, I’m one of those people” (Stevens,1982).
On June 18, 1983, Ride made her renowned flight into space.Her job was to work as a flight engineer, an assistant to the pilot andco-pilot while the Challenger was entering and leaving orbit, and duringlanding. While the space shuttle was in orbit, Dr. Ride acted as a missionspecialist and was in charge the main mission tasks. On this particularmission, the deployment of two communications satellites via operation of agiant robotic arm was the main objective but there were also several otherscientific experiments (Dunbar, 2015). Ride retired from NASA in 1987.
Afterwards, she started teaching at the University of California in San Diego.It was at this time that Dr. Ride came up with the idea for NASA’s EarthKAMproject, which allows middle school students to use a camera on theInternational Space Station to take pictures of Earth. In 2003, nine years beforeher death, Dr. Sally Ride was inducted into NASA’s “Astronaut Hall of Fame,” whichhonors astronauts for their great achievements (Dunbar, 2015). Question 2: Experiences with Gender-Biases and Sex DiscriminationAs Dr.
Ride’s life partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, states in aninterview after Dr. Ride’s death in 2012, there are obstacles that have to beovercome by almost anybody. While most are tamer and less challenging, thereare still “deeply embedded challenges that are part of our culture.”O’Shaughnessy states, “It’s more kosher for a boy to say he wants to be anengineer than a girl” (Bilger, 2014). While Dr.
Ride did face many challenges that her maleco-workers did not, few of them were hard fought or jeopardized her flight.During a news conference before the launch, many questions directed at her wereexplicitly about being the first American women in space. Dr. Ride dealt withthese questions very carefully, and even humorously.
In fact, after being askedif she cried whenever faced with some frustrating tasks, Dr. Ride simply askedwhy they don’t ask any of her male counterparts these questions (Granath,2015).