(1930- ) Sandra Day O’Connor was the first female Supreme Court justice and was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1981. She completed her education at Stanford University and served in the Arizona courts before assuming her place in the nation’s highest judicial position. O’Connor battled and won her fight with breast cancer in 1994. She retired from the Supreme Court in 2006.
Source: Cornell University
This is a special place with exciting missions that push the frontiers of human knowledge, and it’s filled with people that love the work they do and are completely committed to America’s space program.- Shana Dale
(1964- ) Shana Dale was nominated by former President George W. Bush to preside as deputy administrator of NASA in 2005, making her the first female to hold the post and consequently the highest rank a woman has ever held at NASA. As deputy administrator, she served as the agency’s second in command and was responsible to the administrator for providing overall leadership, planning, and policy direction for the agency. Before serving in this post, Dale was the deputy director of Homeland and National Security for the Executive Office of the President. She received her law degree from California Western School for Law.
“Just as the pioneer travelers of the Conestoga wagon days kept personal journals, I, as a pioneer space traveler, would do the same.” – Christa McAuliffe
(1948-1986) Christa McAuliffe was selected from over 11,000 applicants as a payload specialist astronaut for the Teacher in Space program in 1985. She planned to teach two lessons from Space Shuttle Challenger. In 1986, the space shuttle experienced a fatal launch, taking the lives of all seven astronauts aboard, including Ms. McAuliffe. She was previously a teacher from New Hampshire, teaching social studies, American history, and other classes.
Source: NASA JSC
(1821-1910 ) Elizabeth Blackwell was accepted to Geneva Medical College of New York in 1848. Her story seems to be one of chance. The story goes that Geneva Medical College did not want to risk rejecting a female applicant so they polled the medical students on what they should do. Under the impression that a rival school had submitted the application, the students voted to admit the candidate. Elizabeth Blackwell eventually became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Dr. Blackwell later worked with Florence Nightingale to provide training for nurses in the Civil War, and they helped establish the United States Sanitary Commission in 1861, which aimed to improve conditions in military hospitals. Dr. Blackwell also founded the Women’s Medical College in New York City. In 1899, Cornell University Medical School began to admit women, and in turn, the Women’s Medical College closed.
(1913-2005) Rosa Parks was born in Tuskeegee, Alabama and attended a school for all African-American children in the 1920s. Her school only went up to the sixth grade, and at the age of 11, she was sent to Mongomery, Alabama for further studies. Unfortunately, she had to drop out of school to care for a sick family member. Ms. Parks is most often remembered by the masses for her refusal to give up her bus seat during an era where this was expected from an African-American. Many have credited this moment to be the spark for the modern civil rights movement in the United States. Eventually, Ms. Parks and her fellow civil rights leaders movements led to the 1956 Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation illegal on public buses.
Source: Scholastic for Teachers
“It might seem unfair to reward a person for having so much pleasure over the years, asking the maize plant to solve specific problems and then watching its responses. ” – Barbara McClintock
(1902-1992) Barbara McClintock was an American geneticist who discovered transposition of genes through her work on plants, specifically corn. Genetic transposition is the movement of genes to various positions on the chromosome. This discovery was completely opposite of the genetic understanding at that time, and it was not until her findings were confirmed as molecular techniques improved that she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983. She became the first woman to win a non-shared Nobel Prize. She graduated from Cornell University with a doctorate degree and was awarded the National Medal of Science, the highest government award for science.
“I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.” Eleanor Roosevelt
(1884-1962) Eleanor Roosevelt is most well known as former First Lady when her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was President of the United States. She was a humanitarian and civic leader, and her work for the welfare of youth, African-Americans, the poor, and women spanned national and international reach. Even after the death of FDR, she became a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, and in 1948, she wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirmed life, liberty, and equality internationally for all people regardless of race, creed or color. Additionally, she helped establish the state of Israel and attempted negotiations, while cautiously, with the Soviet Union (now Russia).
“Eileen Collins is a living, breathing example of the best that our nation has to offer. She is, of course, a brave, superb pilot and a magnificent crew commander.” – Michael Griffin, Former NASA Administrator
(1956- ) Eileen Collins is a retired astronaut who was selected for the corps in 1990. She is also a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. She was the first female Space Shuttle pilot, flying Discovery for STS-63 in 1995. Then in 1999, she was the first female Space Shuttle commander, taking charge of Columbia. So fittingly, she was also commander for the return to flight after the Columbia tragedy. During this mission, she was the first pilot to ever have to perform a complete 360 degree pitch maneuver of the Space Shuttle. She retired in 2006 to pursue private interests.
“Each goal attained was like a new badge. Guiding taught me to see goals and achieve them.” -Dr. Roberta Bondar
(1945- ) Dr. Roberta Bondar is a neurologist, distinguished professor, and former astronaut. She became the first female Canadian astronaut to fly into space in 1992 as a payload specialist aboard Discovery. She was selected in the first class of astronauts in Canada in 1983.
Sources: Dr. Roberta Bondar’s Official Site and JSC Astronaut Biographies
Hello Women@NASA Blog Readers!
Tomorrow begins a month of celebrating those who came before us and paved the way so that we would have the rights to be who we are. To celebrate who we were. And who we will become.
As such, for each day in March, we will post a Women in History Shout Out. So if you have a woman you want honored, leave a comment here, on our Facebook wall, or Tweet @WomenNASA. All you need to do is suggest the honoree’s name and one line about who she is. We will do the in-depth research. Don’t assume your favorite is so obvious that we would just know to pick her. There are so many women to honor and only so many days.
Additionally, Women@NASA is hosting Women, Innovation and Aerospace on March 8th to celebrate Women’s History Month. If you are near a NASA center, please attend! All events are free and open to the public but seating is limited so you must register. Learn more here.
It’s been an exciting time for us here at Women@NASA. We have a steadily growing followership on Twitter and Facebook, most of whom we are positive don’t already read the blog. This means we are reaching out to more and more people and with social media, our hope is we are also reaching out to young people and inspiring them to impact the world through science and engineering. For the future, you can expect a smartphone application and partnerships with women’s organizations. We won’t leak too many details but we can assure you they will be fun, lively, new, and targeted just for our readers/followers/supporters.
Thanks for reading/following!