NASA Achieves Gender Equality with New Group of Astronauts

Written by Amelia Rosch

Closely following the 50th anniversary this past Sunday of Russian Valentina Tereshkova becoming the first woman in space and the 30th anniversary of Sally Ride’s famous flight today, NASA has named four women to be among its class of eight new astronauts trainees—the first time that the U.S. space agency has achieved gender parity in a class of new astronauts.

The four women, Christina Hammock, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Anne McClain and Jessica Meir, were chosen from more than 6,000 applicants. McClain trained as a helicopter pilot, Mann served as a major in the U.S. Marine Corps, Hammock worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Meir worked for Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Said Janet Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center, ”This year we have selected 8 highly qualified individuals who have demonstrated impressive strengths academically, operationally and physically. They have diverse backgrounds and skill sets that will contribute greatly to the existing astronaut corps. Based on their incredible experiences to date, I have every confidence that they will apply their combined expertise and talents to achieve great things for NASA and this country in the pursuit of human exploration.”

These women will be creating new firsts as well. NASA administrator Charles Bolden said that they may help lead the first human mission to Mars, which would not happen until at least 2030. Until then, the astronauts would conduct research on the International Space Station, test new space technologies and work on a NASA project to drag an asteroid into the moon’s orbit.

Said Bolden, ”These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we’re doing big, bold things here—developing missions to go farther into space than ever before.”

Twelve of NASA’s 49 current active-duty astronauts are women. In all, 55 women have flown in space (43 of them Americans), making up a little more than 10 percent of all astronauts. While Russia was the first country to have women astronauts, there have only been another 18 in their program since Tereshkova, and of those only three have actually flown in space. The last time a Russian woman flew in space was 1994, and there are currently only two active Russian women astronauts. China’s space program just sent its first woman into space last year.

This post was originally published at Ms. Magazine.


Photo from Thinkstock


Jim V
Jim Ven8 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S8 months ago

thanks for sharing.

GGma Sheila D.
GGmaSheila D4 years ago

Kudos to those four women, who competed with the Big Boys and came out on top.

Ernie Miller
william Miller4 years ago


Kay M.
.4 years ago

Great article and excellent comments, keep them coming. Any progress is worth celebrating, anywhere and anytime.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage s4 years ago

We Are All One and therefor equal :-)

Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance4 years ago

Having just read an article about a Christian school principal kicking a 12 year old girl off the school footbal team and now this one, I suddenly thought of the song from Annie Get Your Gun
"Anything you can do,
I can do better.
I can do anything
Better than you."

I also keep hearing the words to the Helen Reddy's song "I am woman"
"I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again."

As a woman in business, I always had to do more and do it better than a man to hold my place, but I was compensated at a lesser rate. I applaud these women --- 4 successful applicants out of 6,000. That is no small feat. It is absolutely stunning! I know how it feels --- I was #2 out of over 600 job applicants from across Canada vying for one position.

Well done ladies!

Peggy A.
Peggy A4 years ago

We are equal.

Ana Marija R.
ANA MARIJA R4 years ago

Good for NASA!
Paul m. i agree...

Paul Carter
Paul Carter4 years ago

Roll on the day when people are judged by ability not by anything else; when different skill sets are not assumed and when stereotypes are seen as the lazy shorthand they are. In the mean time good luck to all the astronauts.