92 years ago, on August 26, 1920, the United States granted women the right to vote through the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For almost 100 years, women have been making a difference by casting their ballot to make their voice heard. The ability to exercise this most sacred of our country’s rights is not one we should take for granted; we have no right to complain if we do not participate.
Our participation is critical in more than just the voting booth. In the last century, women have made tremendous advances in what have been traditionally male-dominated fields, such as engineering and science. The Benoit College Mindset List, which reflects the worldview of the entering class of college freshmen, for the class of 2016 noted that, for this class of students born in 1994: “Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.”
Here at NASA we have been working hard to increase the number of women engineers, scientists and supervisors. But we have more to do to foster the women currently in the workforce and encourage the young women just entering the workforce. We must make also ensure that today’s young girls have the opportunity to grow into women who will be astronauts, astronomers, mathematicians, and rocket scientists.
A century ago, women fought to be included in the most basic tenet of our nation’s government: the right to participate in our government. In the decades since, women have reached for new heights. I am able to work today as the Deputy Administrator of NASA alongside other amazing women here at NASA and throughout our government because of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sally Ride and Eileen Collins, and so many others paving the way. All of these women fought to create opportunities for women, none more so than my friend Sally Ride, a pioneer whose all-to0-brief life nevertheless created new paths for women to pursue and whose example we will continue to follow. Sally and i also took our inspiration from another pioneer we have recently lost, Neil Armstrong, who made his legacy a crucible through which women could also take advantage of opportunities in science and technology. We honor the legacy of those who have come before us by becoming educated and informed citizens and by continuing to open up new avenues of opportunity for women everywhere.