Happy Women’s History Month!
The month of March is a special time of year for us here at Strong Women, Strong Girls. March is home to International Women’s Day on March 8th and Women’s History Month here in the United States. It is a time of year where those all around the country and world take time to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women, and shine light on the greatly needed persistence in the fight for gender equity. Celebrating, fighting for, and empowering women is core to what we do at Strong Women, Strong Girls every day, but this time of year reminds us that it is always important to take time and share the best practices of our female empowerment programming with our greater SWSG community members.
Each week this month we will spotlight a specific strong woman from history on our Facebook page using the hashtags #SWSGWHMspotlight and #HerStory. Be sure to follow us and also share yours suggestions on which woman you think we should highlight next. We look forward to hearing from and sharing with you!
Dr. Ellen Ochoa PHOTOGRAPHER: BILL STAFFORD
When SWSG thinks of historically remarkable women, we often think of those who have made themselves into strong role models – women who have pushed the bounds of society and in turn opened the doors for all women. To kick off our Women’s History Month spotlight, we begin with highlighting the accomplishments of Dr. Ellen Ochoa. In 1993 Dr. Ochoa became the first Latina astronaut in history, and is one of two Latinas in the 2017 class of the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame. Her total time in space clocked in at 40 days, 19 hours, and 36 minutes.
At a time when women make up less than 25% of STEM professions, Ochoa is as important a figure as ever. Increasing women in the stem field is important to the advancement of women as well as the diversity and well-being of the STEM field. The work in STEM fields coming from women following the accomplishments by Dr. Ochoa shows the impact that positive female role models can have on industry and greater society. There are currently almost equal proportions of men and women receiving bachelor degrees in the STEM field. Although progress is being made in equalizing the playing field, it is important to note that young girls still feel as though they can’t succeed in math and the sciences. According to a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), young girls still feel low self-esteem (compared to boys) in regards to math and science; regardless of their ability level. Role models such as Dr. Ochoa assist in showing young girls (and women) that they can succeed in any field.
Dr. Ochoa’s astronomical feats are awe-inspiring, and she couldn’t have achieved them without a strong dedication to her own education and continuous improvement. She understood her passion and created an educational and career trajectory in order to accomplish her professional and personal goals. Ochoa received a bachelor’s in physics from San Diego State University graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and both a master’s and doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. In Ochoa’s more recent life she has served as Deputy Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, continuing her positive impact on the astronomical community.
Ellen Ochoa is a magnificent role model and an example that hard work and dedication can take you far. We highlight her to show our gratitude to every strong woman who has paved the way to inspire all of us to dream and do.