March is National Women's History Month, and to commemorate, the National Aerospace Agency had planned a space walk for women on Friday, March 29. The Mission: Two female astronauts, Anne McClain and Christina Koch, stepping into space together to supply the International Space Station solar panels with batteries – without a man at their side.
But Monday brought bad news for the women's empowerment event, which would have been important to women around the world, especially for the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs. The lack of adequate (medium) and configured space suit meant that only one woman could participate. NASA stated in the announcement:
"It was planned that Koch would make this spacewalk with the astronaut McClain, in which this would have been the first purely female spacewalk. However, after consultation with McClain and Hague after the first spacewalk, the mission managers decided to adjust the orders, in part due to the availability of space suits on the station. McClain learned on her first spacewalk that a medium-sized, hard torso ̵1; essentially the space suit shirt – suits her best. Since on Friday, March 29, only a medium-sized torso can be made, Koch will wear it.
Now astronauts Nick Hague and Koch will do it together instead. It is unclear whether another purely female spacewalk will take place, but there is already a petition on the Internet to ensure that this is the case.
Since announcing that the all-female spacewalk has been canceled, NASA has been severely criticized for sexism. Since the game that NASA clarified, it's not that they did not have a medium sized suit on board, but that it was not configured for a spacewalk. NASA said it would be easier to stay on schedule by replacing astronauts rather than configuring the space suit. However, this defense undermines the point: women wanted to see women walking alone in space with a man at their side. Is that too much? For NASA, the answer is yes.
Earlier this month, Koch said it was an "honor" to make a spacewalk during the National Women's History Month. This emphasizes the importance of such an event.
"I hope I can." an example of people who may not have a mentor. , , It does not matter where you come from or what examples exist in your environment, you can really accomplish anything you're passionate about, "Koch said.
While it might have thrown the 12 hour reconfiguration schedule in this case the message would have been tremendously significant because NASA is one of the best-known executives in the STEM industry worldwide – if NASA can not make a change to better support a woman doing her job in a male-dominated industry, why should? The message sent today to little girls who dream of making spacewalks in the future is that they may not be able to do so because of their height, and the organization implicitly sets a disappointing standard for the STEM Industry that has long been concerned with gender inequality  In February, researchers published an analysis of an eight-year longitudinal sample of STEM experts in the United States that found significant erosion for new mothers. After four to seven years of birth or adoption of a first child, 43 percent of women left their full-time STEM jobs, compared with 23 percent of new fathers.
"Their withdrawal represents a loss of knowledge and expertise in STEM that is detrimental to innovation and scientific investigation," said Erin Cech, co-author of the study, at that time to Salon.
This is not that For the first time, NASA had difficulty getting the proper spacesuits for women, and a 2003 study found that eight out of 25 female astronauts could not fit in the available space suits at the time, which alone prevented assignment to spacewalks. At the time, none of the men had a problem with the wardrobe.
Not much has changed more than a decade later, and NASA has had to persuade its engineers in the words of Hillary Clinton "to change one Make a suit "- one that does not prevent women from doing exactly what men do.