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Women’s Equality Day Reverberates Throughout NASA and Online

Catherine Ragin Williams |
August 27, 2019

NASA joined organizations across the world in celebrating Women’s Equality Day on Aug. 26.

The date was selected to celebrate the Women’s Suffrage Movement’s greatest victory — women’s achievement of full voting rights following the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. The observance not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also represents women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.

Throughout NASA and on its flagship social media accounts, attention was given to the trailblazing women currently paving the way for girls looking toward STEM careers, as well as women who made their mark during earlier space exploration programs.

First up, the International Space Station Twitter account celebrated Expedition 60’s Christina Koch as she marked day 164 aboard station — the halfway mark of what will be a record-breaking mission.

Meanwhile, on Reddit, five female flight directors leading NASA’s Mission Control Center took part in an AMA, or Ask Me Anything. The participants included: Pooja Jesrani, Mary Lawrence, Courtenay McMillan, Rebecca Wingfield and Emily Nelson (also NASA’s deputy chief flight director). Read the AMA here to find out more about their college/career trajectories, stories from the trenches of human space exploration and other never-knew bits of information, like which one had glow-in-the-dark stars as part of their room décor while growing up.

On Aug. 22, Flight Director Pooja Jesrani takes part in her first shift and team-naming ceremony inside mission control. Image Credit: NASA/James Blair  

NASA’s Tumblr posted a visual walk back in time, showing that no matter the time period in our nation’s history or the style of dress, women were leaving and indelible mark on history — especially human space exploration. From Apollo to Shuttle and beyond, women have been integral to the success of NASA's projects and programs.

The Astronaut Class of 1978, otherwise known as the “Thirty-Five New Guys,” was NASA’s first new group of astronauts since 1969. This class was notable for many reasons, including having the first African-American and first Asian-American astronauts and the first women. Image Credit: NASA

And, for the Barbie fanatics among us, the Sally Ride doll has been added to the Barbie Inspiring Women series this Women’s Equality Day, joining Katherine Johnson’s doll. Johnson, in real life, was a NASA mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights. In 1983, Ride became the first American woman in space, showing young girls once and for all that they, too, can “shoot for the stars.” Or, at least, ride aboard spaceships ... the next-best thing.

Image Credit: Mattel/NASA

Learn about women at NASA by visiting:

Barbie's Katherine Johnson doll, part of the Barbie Inspiring Women series. Image Credit: Mattel
Barbie's Katherine Johnson doll, part of the Barbie Inspiring Women series. Image Credit: Mattel