Women Who Changed the World Through Science: Sally Ride

Science Question of the Day:  On your road to success in science and engineering, how willing are you to break down, and break through, stereotypes and other obstacles?  Sally was. Read her story!

While completing her Ph.D. in physics at Stanford University in 1977, Sally Ride became intrigued by a NASA newspaper ad seeking astronaut candidates.  Her decision to answer that advertisement would change her life forever.

When she and with four fellow astronauts blasted off aboard the space shuttle Challenger  in June 1983, she became the first American woman—and, at 32, the youngest American—in space. Sally's historic flight made her a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers and a hero to generations of adventurous young girls.

She later used her passion and energy to establish Sally Ride Science, a nationally-known science education endeavor dedicated to inspire young people—especially girls—to stick with their interest in science and to consider pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  Since her death from pancreatic cancer this year, the enthusiasm she ignited among students in this mission continues to burn brightly.

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I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Ride at an event marking the 10th anniversary of Apollo-Soyuz. Among the current NASA administrator, the Apollo-Soyuz and other astronauts, Carl Sagan, and other notables, she was the one who impressed me the most, both on stage and in person.