The most important thing about Sally Ride
This week, astronaut and physicist Sally Ride would have been 64 years old. Google marked the occasion with a series of brilliant, poignant doodles, created by Olivia Huynh. The two above are my favorites. Here’s why.
The term pioneer is often overused, but Sally was a true one in every sense of the word. She was the first American woman—and LGBTQ person—in space, the youngest person in space, and her crew were the first ever to retrieve a satellite. But for all these achievements, what she did after she left NASA was more significant.
Sally became a physics professor at the University of California, where she was a strong voice for women pursuing STEM careers and a personal mentor to many. In 2001, she founded the non-profit, Sally Ride Science, to inspire young children—especially girls and minorities—to become scientists. Although Sally was a private person, she recognized that her public achievements made her an important role model, and she embraced it.
One quote best summarizes Sally Ride’s humble greatness. Disappointed by the media’s focus on her sex, at a press conference she remarked:
“It’s too bad this is such a big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.”
BOOM. Through education and understated leadership, Sally inspired a generation of young people to reject outdated norms and be changemakers themselves. The most important thing about Sally Ride is not that she was the first. It is that she refused to be the last.