Lift the wings

“Some elders have to be shocked for everybody’s good now and then.” –Amelia Earhart

Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died on July 23, 2012. Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly a plane across the Atlantic, would have celebrated her 115th birthday the next day. I find this poignant and, simply, huge.

It’s not just that both women fought against gender stereotypes, though they did; both participated in activities regarded as primarily masculine for their times. It’s not just that Sally Ride gave the lie to intellectual stereotypes by studying both literature and physics, which many consider irreconcilable opposites.

It’s also that there is still so much work to be done, both in science education generally and for girls specifically. Great Science for Girls presents ways to make science interesting and inclusive.The National Science Foundation lists and counters some pervasive myths that present educational barriers for girls. Sally Ride started Sally Ride Science in 2001 to address the gap in science and technology education.

It’s also that I wonder if it ever hurt. Fighters have feelings, even if their determination or stubbornness seems to burn it away. As I think of how these women took flight and inspired other girls, I have an enormous respect for their dealing with so much potential misunderstanding and pushback. But even if their fight might have been painful, I’m glad that they ended in flight. They deserve it.

Further reading:

Sally Ride’s books on the solar system and saving the planet.

Help Your Kids with Science and other materials for making science fun.

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride

Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, to show that girls can express themselves in a variety of ways.

And, because I must, 11 Experiments that Failed.  🙂

About Amy

Children's librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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