urban and space design

Sompong Sriphet | Dreamstime.com

The sad side of NASA cancelling first ever all-female spacewalk

How many rocket scientists does it take to design a spacesuit?

March 26, 2019

The first all-female spacewalk that was scheduled for this Friday won't be happening because of a NASA "spacesuit availablility" issue. In other words, NASA doesn't have spacesuits that fit women correctly.  On the surface this looks like a minor "oops" moment for the space agency, but if you go a bit deeper, it's just another sad example of how women are still invisible when it comes to research, data and design. 

In her new book, Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for MenCaroline Criado Perez explores the myriad of ways women are completely ignored in just about everything that affects our daily lives. You've probably heard that office temperatures are routinely set to be 5 degrees colder than a women's comfort level. That's because corporations rely on a formula based on the metabolic resting rate of a 40-year-old 167 lb man. But women are being ignored in more ways than just our comfort levels. Sometimes the omission of female data can be dangerous, even fatal. For example, automobiles are designed around the body of a "reference man". This is why although women are involved in fewer crashes, they are 50% more likely than men to be seriously hurt or killed. Fortunately for our sisters in space, someone caught the flaw in NASA's spacesuit design before it was too late. It's just a shame that they have to wait to make history until the history of excluding women in the design of everything stops repeating itself.