To be fair, a lot can change in an organisation over 40 years, and to blame them for following cultural trends of the time years later is a bit skewed.
While rejection letters from NASA were surely common, this particular letter included the statement: “This is to advise that we have no existing program concerning women astronauts nor do we contemplate any such plan.”
Times have certainly changed, with NASA’s latest class of astronauts being 50% women. However, if NASA had been a diversity champion earlier, they may have employed a number of women – including one Hilary Clinton.
“When I was about 13, I wrote to NASA and asked what I needed to do to try to be an astronaut,” Clinton said. “And of course, there weren’t any women astronauts and NASA wrote me back and said there would not be any women astronauts.”
NASA sent the first American woman, Sally Ride, into space in 1983, 20 years after the Soviet Union’s Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.
*image credit: nasa.gov.