Shooting for the Stars: Women Thrive in Traditionally Male-Dominated Fields

The cancelling of the first all-women spacewalk—not because the astronauts were unqualified, but because there was a shortage of spacesuits to accommodate the entire team—has prompted a lot of talk about women in space recently. As we mark the International Day of Human Space Flight this Friday, conversation continues to focus on women’s competence, contributions, and expertise in space; as well as in countless other fields that have traditionally been dominated by men. Today we look at just a few stories about women thriving in male-dominated fields, and how welcoming women to any industry is a triumph for women—as well as the fields themselves.

A Place for Women in Space, from Foreign Policy—“’Even as female astronaut candidates prove their competence and ability, and as spacesuits and other equipment [are] adapted for them, they are still working in the context of a legacy that has been predominantly male,’ said Shawna Pandya, a Canadian physician and citizen-scientist astronaut candidate. “We are thus working in a system with an unconscious male bias, which is nearly universal.’ [...]  a gendered lag persists in the design of the organization’s mission tools, which can sometimes see women struggle—literally—to fit in. This is by no means unique to NASA and is reflected across the space science industry.”

Trailblazers: Women in Rwanda Rise as Leaders in Male-Dominated Professions, from the Pulitzer Center—“Once living under a strict patriarchal society, Rwandan women are emerging as business leaders in male-dominated professions such as agriculture—defying the status quo of gender in a post-genocide era.”

Women Leaders on ‘Getting It Done’ in Male-Dominated Industries, from PCMA Convene—“Don’t be afraid to be your authentic self. Sometimes you feel a little uncomfortable, [since] as women we are told that certain roles are not made for us, we don’t belong here. … But when you are yourself and you can stand in your own truth, you know where you belong and that’s your power.”

Notre Dame’s McGraw Wants More Women in Positions of Power, from Associated Press News—“When you look at men’s basketball, 99 percent of the jobs go to men, why shouldn’t 100 or 99 percent of the jobs in women’s basketball go to women? Maybe it’s because we only have 10 percent women athletic directors in Division I. People hire people who look like them. That’s the problem.” [...] “How are these young women looking up and seeing someone that looks like them, preparing them for the future? We don’t have enough female role models. We don’t have enough visible women leaders. We don’t have enough women in power.”

The Female Architects—Surviving the Journey to the Top, from Archinect—“As more women take the stage in the architectural industry, women following in their footsteps can find both inspiration and knowledge to succeed in their careers. [...] (Danish architect Dorte) Mandrup makes the point that she does not want to be referred to as a ‘female architect.’ Instead, she wants to be known as an architect—one whose work can compare with the creativity of any male without having the additional label attached. She believes that until women stop getting referred to as ‘female architects,’ true equality within the industry cannot happen.”

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