Sally Ride was born in 1951 in Los Angeles, California. She attended high school at Westlake School for Girls. After high school, she went to Swarthmore College and Stanford University where she earned multiple degrees in Science and Liberal Arts. On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman to fly in space.
Passion at an Early Age
The elder child of Dale Burdell Ride and Carol Joyce, Ride had one sibling, a younger sister named Karen. Her father was a political science professor and her mother was a counselor. Her parents encouraged Sally and her younger sister to study hard and do their best, but allowed the children the freedom to develop at their own pace.
When asked what her favorite subjects were in school, Ride said that she liked math, but was also very interested in astronomy and physical science. Her heroes were astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.
I didn't really decide that I wanted to be an astronaut for sure until the end of college. But even in elementary school and junior high, I was very interested in space and in the space program."
Professions for Women WERE Limited, but Times are Changing
Sally Ride applied to be an astronaut in 1977 when she was just 26 years old. It was the first time that women were invited to apply to the astronaut program.
Ride was a college student at the time and saw an advertisement in the student newspaper that NASA was looking for women astronauts. She was one of six women out of 8,000 to be selected to join the program.
Prior to her first space flight, she was subject to media attention because she was a woman. During a press conference, she was asked questions like, "Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?" and "Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?" Despite this and the historical significance of the mission, Ride insisted that she saw herself in only one way—as an astronaut
The struggle for women to transform their dreams into successful careers has changed. Sally Ride was one of many women who paved the way for a new generation of young girls to follow their dreams to be scientists or astronauts.
Even more encouraging, since the enormous success of the Women's March on January 21, 2017, global awareness of the heartbreaking difficulty of women to attain their goals has increased tremendously. It's finally our turn!
Perseverance and Success!
Ride has received numerous honors and awards and has written 5 science books for children. She also initiated and directed education projects designed to fuel middle school students' fascination with science. She was inducted into both the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
After she left NASA, Ride continued to encourage girls to be interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She is one of many women who have paved the way for a new generation of young girls to achieve success!