By the time she began studying laser physics at Stanford, women had already broken through into the physics department, once a boys’ club. And when she applied to the space program, NASA had already made a commitment to admit women.
But there were still rough spots. Speaking to reporters before the first shuttle flight, Dr. Ride — chosen in part because she was known for keeping her cool under stress — politely endured a barrage of questions focused on her sex: Would spaceflight affect her reproductive organs? Did she plan to have children? Would she wear a bra or makeup in space? Did she cry on the job? How would she deal with menstruation in space?
I’m glad we’ve progressed past this (at least a little). Also, I’m glad that strong women like Dr. Ride faced all of the criticism and sexism and still pushed her way to the top.
I’d like to point out that Dr. Ride was originally a Physics AND ENGLISH major… specializing in Shakespeare. Even wildly logical and scientifically focused people can understand the value of literature.