Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Women in Space Program

A few months ago I came across this article (via Wired):
I don't know whether the physiology is interesting in the context of that scientific discipline (I certainly don't find it particularly surprising that women were just as qualified as men for even a very physical job), or if this is considered a quirky historical story. Nor is it especially surprising that women were preventing from taking part in this high profile, prestigious and dangerous work at a time when women were unable to take active service in the military in most countries (not that this is something one should necessarily aspire to, but it's one of the most discriminating employers even today).

What I did find interesting (if not unusual) was the way that even when this particular group of women, the Mercury 13, had been allowed to take the tests, and had proved themselves as individuals, and had shown that in many categories (especially tolerance to sensory deprivation and claustrophobia) they were categorically superior to males in the same category, excuses were made to deny them the right to participate in the space program. From the unproven (menstruation will interfere with their ability) to the Catch 22 (only experienced test pilots, a career from which women are already barred, may qualify); men set the goalposts to get the results they wanted in the first place. Plus ├ža change...

Anyway, if you're a bit of a space geek like I am, this is a cool story.

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