As a young woman entering the work force, I often find myself wondering… “What is the big deal? What is all the fuss about Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!) and other women like her?” It seemed much ado about nothing … so I thought I would dig a little deeper to find a connection to hold on to; I am, after all, part of an ever-growing group of female professionals.
In my reading, I stumbled upon two truly inspiring women – Dr. Sally Ride and Marlen Esparza.
NASA’s Mercury 7 team was exclusively male until Sally Ride joined their ranks in 1978 and on June 18th, 1983, she became the first woman to orbit with the STS-7 Space Shuttle mission. What a trailblazer! Tragically, she passed away this past June at the age of 61. What I find most interesting about Dr. Ride is that much of the attention she received was focused on her gender rather than on her many accomplishments; people rarely mention that she was a physicist with a Ph.D. from Stanford, a children’s book author, or that she held various positions on Government and Space committees. Ride’s accomplishments and groundbreaking entry into an exclusively male field changed history and inspired many young women to pursue dreams previously thought unattainable.
Another remarkable trendsetter is Marlen Esparza, a professional boxer representing the United States in this year’s London Olympics. She is young (only 23), driven, beautiful, extremely athletic, passionate, and smart (she was student body president and graduated in the top 2% of her class!). And furthermore, she is incredibly persistent! When her now-coach told her “[He] only trained boys,” she returned to his gym countless times until he agreed to train her. She is fearless and unrelenting. You can see her in action today as she takes on Karlha Magliocco of Venezuela in the quarterfinals at 1:45 PM EST. Tweet at her to show your support!
So what’s all this fuss about? Sally Ride and Marlen Esparza are inspirational and fearless women whose entry into male-dominated fields have inspired women like myself to think outside of the “female sphere” and to try something a little less typical to make their dream come true.