In honor of the international Ada Lovelace Day celebration of women in science and technology fields, my blog today honors NASA astronaut Sally Ride. NASA’s website for Inspirational Women: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/people/bios/women/sr.html
I had the honor of meeting Sally Ride personally a few years back at a lecture I attended through the Chabot Space and Science Center. Warm and personable, Ride demonstrates how one can serve as a gifted communicator while bringing about progress in a highly technical field. To Ride, scientists can and should reach out to the general public to articulate their goals and to serve, educate, and inspire others.
Sally Ride served as Capsule Communicator for the second and third Space Shuttle flights and helped develop the Shuttle’s robotic arm. She flew in space twice aboard the Challenger, part of a crew which tested the use of the robotic arm to retrieve satellites, conducted pharmaceutical experiments, and demonstrated the potential for refueling satellites in space. Also she led investigation of the Challenger disaster to help improve astronaut safety.
Currently Sally Ride works to promote interest in science and space among young people and has written several space-related children’s books. In the lecture I attended, she encouraged highlighting the variety of careers and disciplines involving math and science knowledge. Science can be accessible for people of many different personality types – one does not have to be antisocial with crazy hair and no outside interests to make a contribution to a technical field. Researchers have lives too – families, friends, etc – and plenty of perfectly normal people (as well as plenty of unusual ones) pursue science-related careers.
I would also like to spotlight the Women Who Tech free teleconference http://www.womenwhotech.com/ on May 12th, which brings together women in information technology, social media, open source software, etc for networking and idea sharing. Panel discussions include Launching Your Own Start-Up, Social Media Return on Investment, and Tech Marketing in a Recession and Women and Open-Source Software. Signups open in April, join the mailing list from the Women who Tech website. I will attend as editor/Creative Facilitator of Synchronized Chaos Magazine (http://www.synchchaos.com) and would love to see everyone! I believe there are many opportunities available through technology and applying the entrepreneurial spirit shown through social media/open source/tech startups to create new business models for the new economy.
I celebrate all the men and women doing creative work in science and technical fields and encourage readers to follow their interests wherever they lead.