Just when we thought 2016 was the epitome of #blackgirlmagic, 2017 seems to be off to a pretty strong start! NASA has just announced that astronaut Jeanette Epps will be boarding the International Space Station in May of 2018. This makes her the first black woman ever to do so!
Before being assigned her first spaceflight Expedition 56/57, Dr. Epps was already breaking boundaries. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics from LeMoyne College and a Master of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Maryland. The excellence doesn’t stop there of course. Epps also previously served as a technical specialist for Ford Motor Company, and as a technical intelligence officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Talk about a woman with a resume…
Culmination of a great week of training in Star City. pic.twitter.com/gUU1y319fM
— Jeanette J. Epps (@Astro_Jeanette) December 10, 2016
On the heels of the release of ground-breaking film Hidden Figures, Epps continues to serve as a modern inspiration for young women in STEM across the country. In the past women of color have been underrepresented in this field, proven by National Girls Collaborative Project statistics
Women earned 57.3% of bachelor’s degrees in all fields in 2013 and 50.3% of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees. However, women’s participation in science and engineering at the undergraduate level significantly differs by specific field of study.
While women receive over half of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences, they receive far fewer in the computer sciences (17.9%), engineering (19.3%), physical sciences (39%) and mathematics (43.1%).
Yet, we have a feeling that 2017 will continue to encourage black women to excel in these fields. With role models like Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughn, and now Jeanette Epps, the door for #scientificblackgirlmagic is open wider than it’s been before.