Despite being far less known than Tereskhova, Savistskaya outperformed not only Thereskhova, but also many men. But it was suggested that Savitskaya had to “pass certain selections, overcome hardships and men’s prejudice”.When she arrived at Mir in 1982, she was greeted with a floral apron as a welcome present, and mocking words implied that her place on the station would be in the kitchen. “Even among our space colleagues there were men wondering why we needed to weld and said that we might burn each other’s space suits or the spaceship’s exterior,” Savitskaya said. “It is a great responsibility. If I listen to their concerns, then people could have said that surely it was not something women should do. But after my spaceflight, everyone had to shut up.” She stressed: “The sky is the limit. There aren’t jobs specifically for men or for women, nor are there people who are capable or incapable of performing certain tasks. Working in space depends on a person’s training, psychological and physical status, self-command, personal aims, and so on. If a person is a professional, the gender makes no difference.” Read more about space:
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It’s concerning that nothing has changed since 1983, when the first American astronaut, Sally Ride, received similar questions. She was asked whether the flight would affect her reproductive organs and whether she intended to “weep when things go wrong on the job?” Known for keeping her cool, Ride told reporters at a press conference: “It’s too bad this is such as big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.” NASA reportedly made adjustments to accommodate Ride. Rather than force astronauts to use urine-catching devices, NASA added commodes to space vessels. Tampons were also packed with their strings connecting them. Engineers asked Ride, “Is 100 the right number?” She would be in space for a week. “That would not be the right number,” she told them. At every turn, her difference was made clear to her. Within Russia’s current social climate, Serova’s road to space may have been rockier than any of her female predecessors. “We can now say without any doubt that compared to previous years, fewer women are even applying for the cosmonauts group,” Serova said. “In our country, it is considered to be not a woman’s profession.” She has emphasised that she applied to become a cosmonaut only after fulfilling the “main purpose of a woman”, which was to bear a child. And she has sometimes had to defend herself against those asking whether she could remain a good mother and wife.
South Korea’s first and only astronaut, biomechanical engineer Yi So-yeon explained: “In pursuing this field, girls should sometimes ‘forget’ that they are women in their field and other times rejoice because we are. Understanding that there is time and place for both is especially important. When is it time to be primarily ‘the professional’ and when should we be ‘the woman’? We can be confident and clear and be able to manage both sides. “As a cosmonaut once told me, the toughest thing about this job is the waiting. Not just that, but to wait with making a huge effort to achieve something not necessarily well defined, and to get there. Women must be wiser rather than just more intelligent. It’s about knowing when we must wait, when we should speak out and when we need to listen. This is what’s so important for women to manage well in these fields dominated by guys.” Though dozens of women have now flown on a space shuttle, only two have commanded a spaceship. Those two are NASA astronauts Eileen Collins and Pamela Melroy. Collins explained that becoming a shuttle commander required 1,000 hours experience piloting a jet aircarft, including previous spaceflight experience. Due to this fact, few women achieve this position. Although Collins admitted that she “never really thought that much about” being the first woman to fly as a pilot, yet alone commander, at the time. “The biggest hindrance was the law preventing women from serving on combat aircraft and on combat ships,” she said.
“When I first graduated from pilot training, I wanted to fly fighters,” she said. “That was in 1979. Because of the law against women in combat, however, the Air Force obviously wasn’t going to spend a lot of money training me to fly an airplane that I’d never be able to fly in combat. But, I knew that if I just did my job, and did it well, some day the law would change. It did, in April of 1993. I remember how happy I was because, although it was too late for me, maybe I was part of getting this law lifted.” How times have changed since Neil Armstrong took one small step for man and Captain Kirk went where no man has gone before. Collins suggested that in NASA’s early days, women in the space program were relegated to support roles mainly as technicians, engineers or mathematicians. Read more about the gender gap:
- Shoot me now feminists – but I am terribly bored of this gender equality lark
- Female engineering graduates should be given a rebate on the cost of their education
- Women in leadership: Are there for the UK from other nations?
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