So, in another sad turn of events this week, Sally Ride, first American female in space, died after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Ride always encouraged young girls and boys to pursue math, science and technology. She had a ground breaking career with NASA and founded Sally Ride Science, a wonderful program that sponsors science and technical programs for middle schoolers. It provides lesson plans, materials and creative methodology to keep kids interested and asking more.
Flying in the face of false gender-normative thought, she has been a massive advocate of girls and young women pursuing their dreams in the world of science. How many times have you heard that math or science will be harder for someone because they are female? Yup. Totally not true.
In her obituary, Sally Ride came out, publicly, as a lesbian. She is survived by her partner of 27 years Tam O’Shaunessy, her mother Joyce, her sister Bear, niece and nephew.
O’Shaunessy helped Ride author 4 of her 7 books. Ride devoted her life to the pursuit of science and education. She is truly a hero that many nerdy little girls have looked up to over the years.
And yet, there are people out there who would diminish her legacy of work because of who she spent her life with, who was by her bedside as she left us. I think those people have definitely missed the point.
Let me be very clear about this: Sally Ride is a hero. She is an amazing human being.
She had a life’s work that inspired who knows how many little children to read more, learn more and achieve more. She broke a HUGE barrier for women in America. I mean, insurmountably huge.
I wasn’t yet born when Ride went into space. But I remember her face all through my childhood. Her scrunch nosed smile beamed at me from my kiddo books on space travel.
Ride is a great inspiration to all those nerdy little girls out there with their noses in their books and their calculators in their backpacks. I hope there are thousands and thousands more like her, every year.