When I grew up I wanted to be an astronaut. I loved outer space (specifically that of the Star Trek variety) and I thought it would be fun to float around in space and fiddle with the scientific instruments, maybe take a stroll on the moon.
Then I learned (slightly erroneously) that most astronauts are in the military. (A person can gain flying experience in the military, which is handy, but civilian astronauts are common, too.) I didn’t want to join the military. Even though I was a kid not too long ago (in the 90’s) the military wasn’t really a place for women, or at least wimpy petite women like me. I mainly gained life experience through movies/TV and there just weren’t women soldiers… or if they were they were buff and bald and manly (I’m looking at you Demi Moore).
So I gave up my dream of being an astronaut. And maybe that was better. The Guardian just reported that the number of women in space and just surpassed the number of dogs in space. But times are changing. Many women are looking into careers in space. Astronaut Cady Coleman noted that some people have the misconception that women don’t belong in space, they can’t do the jobs or won’t be as good as men. (Of course, since “normal people don’t care about science” they had to equate women in space to a popular movie. So skip to the end if you want to hear her quote.) But she’s been working hard to show people that women are just as capable. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, also offers hope to young women wanting to go into space: “Never let yourself be limited by other people’s limited imagination.”