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Why there are less astronaut women than men?

Almost 90% of astronauts have been men. But the future of space may be female

Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space The first woman in space was cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, who orbited Earth 48 times from June 16 to 18, 1963. Her flight became Cold War propaganda to demonstrate the superiority of communism. At the 1963 World Congress of Women, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev used Tereshkova’s voyage to declare the USSR had achieved equality for women. Women across the world took heart and dreamed they too might travel to space. Ekaterina Ergardt, a Soviet state farm worker, wrote to Tereshkova: I am eighty years old. I started to live in the years of the beginning of women’s struggle for a life of freedom and equality … now the road to space is open for women.

Despite this optimism, it was 19 years before another woman was allowed to venture beyond Earth. In the United States, women were excluded from space by the restriction that astronauts had to be military test pilots – a profession barred to them. While the first American astronauts – known as the Mercury 7 – were training in the 1960s, aerospace doctor Randy Lovelace recruited 13 women pilots and put them through the same paces as the male astronauts. The “Mercury 13” outperformed the men on many tests, particularly in how they handled isolation. But NASA wasn’t convinced. A congressional hearing was held to investigate whether women should qualify to be astronauts. In her testimony, Mercury 13 astronaut candidate Jerrie Cob said: I find it a little ridiculous when I read in a newspaper that there is a place called Chimp College in New Mexico where they are training chimpanzees for space flight, one a female named Glenda. I think it would be at least as important to let the women undergo this training for space flight. She was prepared to take the place of a chimp, if that was the only way to get into space.

Earthbound again

Women on average are smaller than men in both size and weight. So in a world where each kilo can cost several tens of thousands of extra dollars, it would be reasonable for the space to be full of women.

Since Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space, only ten percent of astronauts have been women.

Do you think that is it changing ?

Is it cheaper to send women to space?

"It's a complicated question," answered Robert Frost, NASA flight instructor and controller, a few days ago on Quora. Indeed, both the weight argument and the greater nutritional needs Care good arguments. But there are other things to take into account when estimating the price of sending a man or woman.

So why, even today, are there more men than women in space? If, as Frost says, the expenses are similar, the percentages should be too. But this is not the case and, in fact, inequality appears systemic. In 2013, of the thousand new annual contracts that NASA made, only 37% were women. The "gender perspective" points out problems that previously went unnoticed Convinced that these differences are avoidable, unnecessary and unfair, NASA expanded its efforts to diversify its teams. It has not gone badly: in the last promotion of astronauts, women were already 50%. Furthermore, the European Union has launched some technological projects to improve radiation protection in a good example of how the 'gender perspective' can contribute to increasing the safety of all space travelers and develop key technologies for future interplanetary travel.

Women and space have always had a conflictive relationship, both in the history of the space race and in science fiction. And the permanent temptation is to think that this relationship is due to different interests, tastes and vocations.

But in view of the good results that equality policies are giving in space agencies, we can say that the explanation why there are more men than women in space is simply because we had not taken the problem seriously until now.


We have searched for the information in: Xataka and converstation.com

Only 566 people have ever travelled to space. Sixty-five of them, or about 11.5%, were women.NASA recently proclaimed it will put the “first woman and next man” on the Moon by 2024. Despite nearly 60 years of human spaceflight, women are still in the territory of “firsts”.