NASA hit a milestone yesterday when the Curiosity Rover landed safely on Mars and began transmitting images back to earth. Granted, it’s a very expensive operation (2.6 billion!!), but it’s fantastic news that it was successful and gives us a way of studying a planet which is so difficult to explore – who knows what we’ll find!

We’re sure some of you were watching the live stream from the NASA website, TMB was too! Space has always fascinated us. We think it’s not knowing exactly what is out there and the fact that scientists still have so much to discover about our own planet. As we were watching the stream curiously – seeing inside the control room felt like a rare moment! We noticed that the room consisted predominantly of men and counted only 4 women. We could be wrong and it could just have been the angle of the cameras, but just watching the live stream showed that there was a substantial amount of men in the room than women.

Picture 2

Picture 1

(Via NASA Television)

TMB wondered why this was the case. When TMB was studying at university, we did hang out with quite a few physicists; most of them being male. We knew a few girls who studied physics or maths, but the ratio of male and female was never equal. It also got us thinking about famous scientists (off the top of out head) and the only ones we could think of were male: Bell, Newton, Fleming,  Darwin,  Edison, and Einstein.

Since realizing there were more men in that control room than women, we’ve been doing some digging around on the web and discovered NASA have made a site dedicated to women who work/have worked there – Link found here.

They launched the site in March 2011 to mark women’s history month and was launched by the NASA deputy administrator, Lori Garver.

“We have an obligation to reach out to the next generation and inspire today’s girls to pursue science and technology careers. Expanding opportunities in these fields will give perspectives and expertise to win the future.”

It’s a pretty good site and has an “Aspire 2 Inspire” section that aims to get young women interested in choosing careers related to physics, maths, technology, and engineering. They have even launched a virtual mentoring project that encourages girls to participate in a 5 week program and involves communicating with real engineers, accountants, and scientists using video calling. We also found this, a history of women and NASA. It’s a useful link, don’t get us wrong, but the web page is pretty short… which means the history is short!

Then we came across this article. Yeah, it’s a bit dated, but is certainly worth mentioning and could be the reason why there’s more men involved in NASA than women, because the progress for equality has moved a LOT slower than that of other fields.

In all honesty, it still baffles TMB. We think more and more girls are slowly becoming interested in Physics, Maths, and Tech, but emphasis on the “slowly” part. It seems that times have changed and NASA is trying to get more young women interested in science. Maybe the virtual mentoring project could be beginning to take off (no pun intended). We guess only time will tell.

Got a useful link to share or have a different opinion? Feel free to post in the comments!