As opposed to the Space Race….
Ok, so, with all of the discussion and protests going on about racism in our country, I did want to talk a little about the final frontier — space. The simple fact is that the aerospace sector is incredibly male and white dominated.
You may have seen or heard the Story Corp episode about Ronald McNair. Yes, we’ve had African-American astronauts, and even an African-American NASA administrator, and those are good things. However, I was at a professional event one evening, with around 40-45 people at the event, and there was precisely one African American at the event (for that matter, there weren’t a lot of women either, and also only 1 Latina).
We need to do more about it. Former NASA administrator Charlie Bolden put it well
We don't have enough representation in the astronaut office, by women and minorities,
And it’s not just about the astronaut corp. All aspects of the Aerospace field really need it. Recently, a friend of mine, Rick Tumlinson, wrote a piece for space.com, and he laid out how most of the major space companies, whether NewSpace or OldSpace, suffer from largely being run by white guys.
For example, of the top 20 NASA commercial contractors, not one of them is led by a Black CEO, only two have a minority leader, and only five have a woman at the helm. Only one is majority-owned by any minority, Arctic Slope Regional, which is an Alaska Native corporation.
Rick then talks about how we need to do better, as an industry
As what's happening in the streets attests, we obviously can't wait for government-led solutions. Just as citizens have managed themselves in peaceful protest for change, we as a community must do so. I am not interested in sound bites from NASA administrators or congressional chairs, or in space company leaders making speeches. I don't think the folks on the streets and in our Black, female and minority communities are either.
It’s time space became more open and more accessible to people of all races. It cannot remain the realm of only white people all the time.
And there are people beginning to step up. Here is hoping that there is enough of a push to broaden the scope of space travelers to include everyone.