3 Things That Paved the Way for Women Astronauts

NASA’s eight new trainee astronauts, half of whom are women

NASA’s eight new trainee astronauts; image by Nasa.gov

June 24, 2013

On Monday, June 17, NASA announced its new team of eight trainee astronauts, including four women. That means 50 percent are women — the highest percentage ever picked by NASA for a class of astronaut candidates! The trainees will prepare for space missions that might bring human explorers to asteroids and even Mars. This is the first time NASA has named new astronauts in eight years.

This announcement isn’t just exciting news for space enthusiasts, it’s also an important moment in women’s history that couldn’t have been achieved without victories and opportunities women fought for over the years. Here are just three:

  1. Title IX

    Title IX prohibits discrimination based on gender in educational programs, admissions, and federal financial assistance. NASA strongly supports Title IX, emphasizing that the agency’s educational programs, funding, and grants should provide equal opportunities to everyone. As women around the country celebrated the 41st anniversary of Title IX yesterday, what better time to remember the ways Title IX has opened up doors for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers?

  2. NASA’s history of hiring amazing women

    This isn’t the first time NASA has benefited from the work of amazing women innovators, astronomers, and scientists. The trainees are following in the footsteps of inspiring women like Nancy Grace Roman, the first woman to hold an executive position at NASA. Or Judith Resnik, who received an AAUW fellowship and went on to become the second American woman in space. Or Mae Jemison, a physician and science mission specialist for the Endeavour and the first African American woman in space.These women not only succeeded in establishing themselves in a male-dominated field where women were not always welcome, but they also paved the way for the astronomers of today and tomorrow. Imagine how much more women would have been able to do if Title IX had been established before 1972!

  3. More opportunities for women in the military

    Two of NASA’s new women trainees have military backgrounds. Nicole Aunapu Mann is currently serving as an integrated product team lead in the U.S. Marines, and Anne McClain is a helicopter pilot and a major in the U.S. Army. The military can be an invaluable source of opportunities for women, especially now that women are able to serve in combat roles. But there’s still a long way to go to make the military a welcoming place for the women who serve our country.

How can we ensure a bright future for the women astronauts of tomorrow? As a society, we are still finding new ways to inspire girls and ensure that they are receiving a strong education that prepares them for a future in the STEM fields. Women are still greatly underrepresented in STEM, but with the help of educational programs like AAUW’s Tech Trek camps, which inspire interest and confidence in STEM subjects, girls can take their ambitions to new heights and become the STEM role models (and astronauts!) of the future.

AAUW STEM Programs Intern Latosha Adams co-wrote this post.

By:   |   June 24, 2013


  1. […] Our own alumna Judith Resnick was the second American woman to make the journey to space, and the latest group of trainee astronauts in NASA boasted four women — a great boon to younger women interested in […]

  2. […] How do we get to that future? We have to boost women’s entrance to STEM training and careers. The American Association of University Women’s new investigate report, Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success, found that village colleges can be a vicious stepping mill in that process. […]

  3. […] The cinema from NASA demeanour great: Four women and 4 group make adult a agency’s latest wanderer class. Unfortunately, this gender relation stays fugitive in many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workplaces. Women make adult scarcely 50% of a wider workforce nonetheless reason fewer than 25% of all jobs in STEM fields. […]

  4. […] The pictures from NASA look great: Four women and four men make up the agency’s latest astronaut class. Unfortunately, this gender parity remains elusive in most science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workplaces. Women make up nearly 50% of the wider workforce yet hold fewer than 25% of all jobs in STEM fields. […]

  5. […] 3 Things That Paved the Way for Women Astronauts (aauw.org) […]

Join the Conversation

You must be logged in to post a comment.