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At the New York Times, the 1969 moon landing was one small step in the oppression of women

July 19, 2019
Image result for neil armstrong space landing
Photo: Getty Images

For most of the world, July 20, 1969 was one small step for man….

For New York Times essayist Mary Robinette Kowal, it was one small step in the oppression of women.

If we do not acknowledge the gender bias of the early space program, it becomes difficult to move past it.

Ugh–the spacesuits make women look fat:

[E]verything in space carries the legacy of Apollo. It was designed by men, for men….

Cady Coleman, an astronaut who has flown on two space shuttles and traveled to the space station, stands 5 feet 4 inches tall and remains the smallest person to ever qualify for a spacewalk. While she was training in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab, she had to improvise padding to wear inside her spacesuit.

Implicit sweat bias:

Inside the spacesuits, astronauts wear the liquid cooling and ventilation garment. This looks like long underwear covered with meters of tubes. It pumps water around the astronauts to cool them. Men and women wear the same style of garment despite the fact that we have different sweat patterns. Men sweat more than comparably fit women, and the areas where they sweat the most occur in different parts of the body. In other words, when it comes to temperature-controlling garments, the needs are different for men and women.

Plus, it’s freezing cold for women in space in July–just like it’s freezing cold for women in the office in July:

We are already aware of this in relation to office temperatures. Temperatures are set for men, which leaves women carrying sweaters to work.

A 2015 study by Dutch researchers found that indoor climate regulations were based on “an empirical thermal comfort model” developed in the 1960s. “Standard values for one of its primary variables — metabolic rate — are based on an average male, and may overestimate female metabolic rate by up to 35 percent,” they concluded.

NASA took pride in advertising the space shuttle as being a shirt-sleeve environment. And yet, if you watch “The Dream Is Alive,” a 1985 documentary made by crews aboard the shuttles, take note of the thick wool slippers on Kathryn Sullivan’s feet.

That’s so unfair:

Women are asked to compromise about seemingly small things in order to participate. Every time we do that, we carry those imprints forward into the future.

And how about this gender-based atrocity:

Ladder rungs are set at the optimum distance for the average man. The pistol-grip tool, or cordless drill, is sized for a man’s hand. The distance from the seats to the control panels in SpaceX’s Dragon Crew capsule is being tested and optimized for an all-male crew.

In space, no one can hear you whine.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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