See Me Soar, Day 2: Astronauts

Women astronauts aboard STS131. Image courtesy NASA.

Who doesn’t love NASA? I certainly do! So, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at ratios of women to men within NASA from the profiles and biographies it has listed on the internet. Originally I was going to provide statistics and links to women’s biographies for all the NASA centers and facilities. However, once I started I saw how much work that entails and have decided to break it down over several days. After all, I have a whole month.

Women who actually soar are those incredible women in the astronaut corp. Johnson Space Center, located in Houston, Texas, houses NASA’s mission control center for all space shuttle and International Space Station activities and is also responsible for training astronauts.

After a lot of counting (and lots of coffee), below are the ratios of women to men I found for all astronaut categories listed. The combined total of all categories is provided at the bottom of the list under Johnson Space Center.

Active Astronauts – 17.74% (11 women, 62 total)
Management Astronauts – 21.95% (9 women, 41 total)
Astronaut Candidates – 33.33% (3 women, 9 total) without international candidates, 21.43% (3 women, 14 total) including international candidates
Former Astronauts – 11.52% (25 women, 217 total)
International Astronauts – 14.75% (2 women, 32 total)
Cosmonauts – 2.27% (1 woman, 44 total)
Payload Specialists – 9.3% (4 women, 43 total)
Johnson Space Center – 12.14% (55 women, 453 total)

Yes, the numbers are a little depressing. The one point I’d like to make is that men have been recruited as astronauts a lot longer than women. I think it would be interesting to see a timeline of women to men ratios, but not something I’m able to do at this time. I’m betting the numbers have gotten better with each passing year. On the bright side, take a look at the U.S. candidates where one third is women. That number is certainly better than the astronauts sent from our international partners.

Parity takes time. Equality takes time. It is happening though. We, as women, just need to keep working at it, encouraging young women interested in soaring high, literally and figuratively. In the meantime, when you need some inspiration, read a biography or two of the women role models already blazing the trail to the stars.

Clear skies!
Debra

2 responses to “See Me Soar, Day 2: Astronauts

  1. Leland Bourdages

    Great site!! I am interested in the history and ideas of feminist theory, and have read stats on how much better women tend to do in stress tests, sleep deprivation tests, and other such aeronautics/military training excercises. I would like to have more of such information for a youtube film I’m making on the subject of feminism, and how it is seen as a bad thing nowadays, and I am kind of trying to remind people that all feminism means is equality.
    Your site is great, and well done for acheiving what you have! You are an inspiration to all little girls!!!
    If you have any of these kinds of stats , I would greatly appreciate if you could let me know!!
    Thanks so much!!!

  2. While I don’t have a compilation of the statistics of women astronauts over time, I did write a book about women astronauts. It’s called “Integration of Women into the Astronaut Corps: Politics and Logistics at NASA, 1972-2004.” It was published in 2011 by the Johns Hopkins University Press. I am a historian by training and this is a history monograph, but it does go into some explanation of why the number and percentage of women in NASA’s astronaut program remain low.

    Dr. Amy Foster
    Department of History
    University of Central Florida

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