“These are great days” for women in science as there’s a good chance that the first person to land on Mars will be a woman, according to the head of NASA, Jim Bridenstine.
Bridenstine was a guest on the science and technology radio show “Science Friday” when he said a woman is “likely to be” the first person on Mars. He didn’t identify a specific person but said women are leading NASA’s future plans.
On Twitter, Bridenstine said that a woman is likely to be the next person on the moon and that women overall will “absolutely” be included in the agency’s next trip to the moon.
Bridenstine’s statements come on the heels of the news that NASA will also have its first seven-hour all-female spacewalk at the end of the month with astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch.
Women are continuing to smash glass ceilings and go where they have never gone before. McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 astronaut class of which 50 percent were women and the most recent class of flight directors was also 50 percent women. McClain and Koch came from the second largest applicant pool NASA ever has received — more than 6,100 applied.
“NASA is committed to making sure we have a broad and diverse set of talent and we’re looking forward to the first woman on the moon,” Bridenstine said.
However, NASA does not have a strong diverse workforce in terms of race, according to their website. Out of 17,000 employees, 72 percent of employees are white while only 12 percent are Black. Eight percent are Asian-American or Pacific Islander, seven percent are Hispanic or Latino, 1.1 percent are American Indian or Alaska native and only 0.3 percent are more than one race.
These statistics are in spite of the fact that Black women have made some of the great scientific discoveries and progress, including Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Mae Jemison, as depicted in the book and film, “Hidden Figures.”