On October 18, 2019, history was made when the first all-female spacewalk occurred. NASA astronauts, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, were the first all-female team that worked for over seven hours outside of the International Space Station to replace a broken power controller, according to The New York Times. NASA has intentionally worked to create space for females in all of its programming in recent years. For instance, Meir and Koch were part of the first ever class of astronauts to be 50% female and 50% male in 2013, states NASA. They are actively sending women to space with the goal to have the first female walk on the moon in 2024. Though the first all-female spacewalk was a momentous occasion, it wasn’t actually planned. When the controller was in need of repair, the best astronauts for the job were tasked to fix it. They just happened to be women. An all-female spacewalk was originally scheduled for earlier in 2019; however, it had to be cancelled because NASA lacked the appropriate-fitting spacesuits for two females to work outside of the space station at the same time.Of the experience, Koch said in an interview, which was posted by NASA that, “In the end, I do think it’s important, and I think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing. In the past women haven’t always been at the table. It’s wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role. That can lead in turn to increased chance for success. There are a lot of people who derive motivation from inspiring stories of people who look like them, and I think it’s an important story to tell.” As women make a place for themselves on the “final frontier,” women are also making space for themselves in a place a little closer to home that has been dominated by men for years. Girls Who Code has been working to break gender barriers in tech by teaching computer science skills to nearly 200,000 young women as well as offering mentoring programs across the country, according to Vox. CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, says that the lack of women in Silicon Valley is a real problem. Because the culture is so male-dominated, women have a hard time landing jobs – and those that do get jobs don’t feel very welcome.In a podcast from Kara Swisher called Recode Decode, Saujani states: “Year after year after year, I get emails from my students saying, ‘I applied to Google, I applied to Microsoft, I applied to Facebook. I’m a 4.0 MIT student, Berkeley, Stanford, you name it. Can’t get my foot through the door. [And] you still have all-white-male panels. You still have serious bouts of sexual harassment and discrimination happening in these companies. You still have a culture that is not welcoming to women and people of color.” That’s why Saujani believes that women and people of color need to go out and start their own companies – in order to create their own cultures. But the key to starting your own company is having investors who will back you; therefore, women-owned companies need investors that are women – or men – who believe in the vision, culture and mission of female-led companies. With that, Girls Who Code isn’t just teaching young women how to code; it’s teaching them how to develop themselves to be women at the top in tech.
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