Language can be a tricky thing. Used in everyday life, it seems harmless. Sticks and stones and all that.
However, words can sometimes retain unintended power. Small things can end up marginalizing people without much thought behind why they’re being used.
This story by retired astronaut Leland Melvin highlights just how powerful a single word can be.
I remember giving a talk and only the boys raised their hands and wanted to be Astronauts. I asked the girls why and they said that I said it was the Manned Space Program. That day my language changed and it became the Human Space Program. Language and #RepresentationMatters TY?
— Leland Melvin (@Astro_Flow) August 21, 2018
Melvin’s change is indicative of a broader change in the space community. Terms like “manned” are falling by the wayside as it’s acknowledged that women have always played a crucial role in humanity’s efforts to explore space.
Space Center Houston is committed to inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility so that everyone can enjoy the wonders of space exploration. The center was privileged to host a day of the best and brightest minds from NASA Johnson Space Center Friday. During the day, five leaders in different departments around JSC gave informal talks throughout the center. These women discussed their careers, how they got into their respective fields and what they are doing to further space exploration.
This evening, there will be a panel discussion featuring three of JSC’s senior leaders as part of our ongoing Thought Leader Series. Deputy director Vanessa Wyche will be joined by External Relations Office Director Debbie Conder and Human Health and Performance Director Catherine Koerner. Part of Space Center Houston’s core purpose is to put everyone on the STEM pathway. This presentation uses space exploration to fuel curiosity through the lens of these remarkable women and their achievements.
If it also encourages little girls to raise their hands and dream of being a leader of NASA in the future, so much the better. As Melvin said, representation matters.