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May 24, 2010
Thanks, Dave. And thanks to all of you for inviting me to join you today. It's my pleasure to offer both the big picture perspective on where NASA is headed right now and my own personal perspective from a 25 year-plus career in aerospace.
Needless to say, 25 years ago, it would have been a lot harder to convene this many women in the aerospace professions. Especially in leadership. We can credit a lot of things for this, one of which is our astronauts who happen to be women with a lot of high visibility for women doing daring things. Doing things that required backgrounds in science and engineering and math in a visible way is often a catalyst for educating and engaging young women. We do have to admit, though, that the Russians were 20 years ahead of us with the first woman in space, although there were very few Russian women who followed after Valentina Tereshkova.
As Dave mentioned, I did have the great opportunity to work for John Glenn. However, I started as a receptionist. But working for John Glenn was an amazing experience.

I always hesitate when I use the term “woman astronaut,” just like I hesitate when I say, “woman doctor” or “woman Deputy Administrator.” It would be really nice when the day comes when it’s nothing special to be an astronaut or an aerospace professional and also happen to be a woman. But we are not there yet, and I have such incredible respect for the women who have blazed a trail into space for us. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space…the late Judith Resnick…Kathryn Sullivan, the first woman to walk in space, who has been followed by only nine others. Shannon Lucid, who spent many months on Mir and held the record for time in space by a woman for many years. Susan Helms, who still holds the record for longest spacewalk with her partner Jim Voss. Peggy Whitson, who holds the record for most time in space by any American.   Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor in September 1992.

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