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Tuesday, 27 August 2019

It’s the story of space travel, but not as we know it, Jim

It’s the story of space travel, but not as we know it, Jim. A group of women who trained in secret to become astronauts in 1961 narrowly missed out on going into space because of gender bias. The Mercury 13, female aviators who took the same grueling physical endurance tests as their male counterparts — and in some cases, outperformed them — are only now becoming known for their role in the first US human spaceflight program. After the private funding that had financed them was cut in 1962, members of the Mercury 13 pushed for a government sub-committee hearing in the hope of forcing NASA to start admitting women, but they were ultimately unsuccessful. One male astronaut from the Mercury Seven even testified that it “went against the social order” to have women in space.

The largely untold contribution of women to our early space history — through their work as engineers, in the control room, and as astronauts — is the theme of this episode of the When Women Win podcast. Science journalist Sue Nelson and Rana Nawas have a chat about why sidelining female talent is to the ultimate detriment of science and technology (listen, runtime: 34:04).

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