Space is awesome. What’s not awesome are sexism and misogyny.
Today is Space Day, a day designed to get people excited about space exploration. However, the number of women in Science Technology Engineering and Math(STEM) is far from exciting. According to the National Science Foundation, women comprise of 28% of employees in science and education.
That said, 28% isn’t so terrible when you find out that they didn't want to put women in space to begin with fearing they might become emotional or unable to function during their period.
They didn’t have a choice in period products either. Their period product was chosen for them by a group of mostly men (including NASA’s male professional sniffer) whose decisions were based on what would be the least disruptive to the people (aka men) around them.
Whether you’re flying in a space shuttle or reaching for the stars in your own way, we here at Flex believe you deserve more options for your period.
In celebration of Space Day, we’re honoring 7 unstoppable women who made great changes in space exploration.
Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson
Katherine Johnson receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
If you haven’t seen Hidden Figures yet then you are missing out on some serious feels. Queue the epic bathroom speech. Katherine Johnson was portrayed by the fabulous Taraji P. Henson but even more fabulous is Katherine Johnson herself. An African-American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. manned space flights.
In 2015, at age 97, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. She’s still thriving at the glorious age of 100!
Sally Kristen Ride was an American astronaut, physicist, and engineer. She became the first American woman in space in 1983.
You might remember that NASA packed Sally Ride with 100 tampons for a 7 day trip. When asked, “Is 100 the right number?” She responded, “No. That would not be the right number.”
“Well, we want to be safe.” 🤨
The engineers were trying to be thoughtful, though; reportedly they packed the tampons with their strings connected so that they wouldn’t float away. Again, they were trying to be… thoughtful?
Things are hopefully different now and at Flex, we see the importance of demystifying your period. Sally would have only needed an 8-pack of FLEX discs.
Mae Carl Jemison
Mae C. Jemison is an American astronaut and physician who, in 1987, changed the American space program by becoming the first African-American woman admitted into NASA’s astronaut training program. In 1992, Jemison flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the Endeavor,, becoming the first African-American woman in space.
Mae Jemison helped pave the way for other young women of color forever. In recognition of her achievements, Jemison has received several awards and honorary doctorates. If you’re reading this Mae, “You are amazing. Thank you!”
Margaret Hamilton is an American computer scientist, systems engineer, and business owner. The creator of the term “software engineering.” Hamilton served as Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, which developed on-board flight software for the Apollo space program.
Margaret Hamilton broke through the boys club and we are forever grateful.
We can’t get enough of Katherine Louise Bouman. You may have heard the buzz about this American computer scientist making waves in the field of imaging. She was a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team that captured the revolutionary first image of a black hole.
We can’t wait to see more from this brilliant and inspiring woman.
One word to sum up Valentina Tereshkova is brave. She is a retired Soviet cosmonaut and engineer. She is also the first woman to have flown in space with a solo mission in 1963.
Svetlana Savitskaya is a retired Soviet aviator and cosmonaut who was the second woman in space. On her 1984 mission she became the first woman to fly to space twice, and the first woman to perform a spacewalk. She set several FAI world records as a pilot.
One small step for women, one giant leap for human-kind.