Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride each achieved major goals in fields that were traditionally reserved for men. Amelia Earhart became the first woman in history to make a solo transcontinental flight in 1928 and Sally Ride became the first woman in space in 1983. After achieving these goals, they each spoke to girls and women. They encouraged them not to feel restricted by what society expected of them as women.
Amelia Mary Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas. Her parents' names were Edwin and Amy and she had a sister named Muriel. Amelia was a tomboy when she was young. She loved playing outdoors. She was also interested in stories of women who combined marriage and career, which was a rare occurrence at that time. During World War One, at the age of 20, Amelia served in a Voluntary Aid Detachment. She loved flying, but wartime restrictions prevented her from going up in the air.
Amelia knew that her goal in life was to become a pilot. She chose a woman, Neta Snook, to teach her to fly. Amelia felt that she would be less self-conscious learning from a woman. She bought her own plane. In 1928, Amelia rode on a transcontinental airplane flight. The flight made her the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air. In 1931, Amelia married George Palmer Putnam. He was a publisher who promoted Amelia's flights. Amelia became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean on her own in 1932.
The transatlantic flight marked the high point in Amelia's accomplishments because it was a great step forward for women. Margaret Dreier Robins of the Women's Trade Union League said, "Is it not in us in America to think that if one of us does something we can do it also?". From 1928 to 1937, Amelia promoted aviation to women. She believed that women could play an important role in the promotion of flying, and if they were uncooperative they could hold back its promising future.
Although she had already set records in aviation, Amelia was looking to set another. In 1937, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, a fellow pilot, took off from Miami in what was to be Amelia's final and most famous flight. They were to fly around the world, and Amelia was to be the first woman to do so. Amelia and Fred stopped every night at designated stops for refueling and repairs. The last time they were seen was during their stop at New Guinea. Their next stop was to be Howard Island. When they didn't arrive there, people concluded that they had disappeared. Searches were conducted in the Pacific Ocean but nothing was found. The news of Amelia's disappearance shocked Americans, but, even though she was the best-known female aviator, public interest backed off after her presumed death and the attention of the nation returned to more ordinary things.
In a time where a women's place was in the home, Amelia Earhart showed women that they were equal to men and could lead equally adventurous lives. Amelia had no children. She devoted her life to two things: promoting women's rights and flying. She said that when it was time for her to die, she would like to die in her plane and quickly. Unfortunately for America, Lady Lindy got her wish.
Sally Kristen Ride was born on May 26, 1951, in Los Angeles, California.
Her parents' names were Joyce and Dale, and she had a sister named Karen. "Sally was a tomboy when she was young. From the age of five, she loved to play sports with boys. Sally was an honor student in school. She excelled in science and English. She went to Stanford for graduate school and got a degree in astrophysics. During her last year there, she began to look for research jobs in her field. An advertisement in the Stanford paper caught her attention. It said that NASA was looking for a few good men or women for their new space shuttle program. Sally filled out the forms required and sent them to the Johnson Space Center. More than 8,000 people applied to be in this program. Sally became one of the 208 finalists. From these finalists, NASA would select the35 best candidates to be astronauts. All the finalists were asked to visit the Johnson Space Center to answer questions and take some tests. In January 1978, NASA announced that the 35 people had been chosen. Sally was one of the six women chosen. The finalists had to complete a year of training to become astronauts.
In 1982, Sally Ride's life was changed forever. She had been chosen, along with three men, for the flight of shuttle STS-7, called Challenger. A doctor, also male, would join the crew later on to take care of medical issues on the flight. Commander Robert Crippen said that Sally was chosen because she was a competent engineer, cool under stress, and had a pleasing personality. Hundreds of reporters called NASA to talk to the first American spacewoman. The reporters paid more attention to Sally than to anyone else in the STS-7 crew. Sally was honored that NASA chose her to be the first woman in space, but it was important to her that people didn't think that she was chosen only because she was a woman.
Although Sally had a full resume at this point, she decided to add 'wife' to the list. Sally married Dr. Steven Hawley in 1982. He was a mission specialist in the 1978 astronaut group. They had a private wedding, and only their close friends and relatives were there.
The year before the mission was spent training for the flight. Training included practicing the steps of the mission and getting to know the shuttle's parts. Finally, on June 18, 1983, Challenger lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Almost half a million people watched from around the launch site as the space shuttle soared into the sky. Challenger was in space for seven days. "The crew's mission consisted of three tasks. They launched communications satellites for the Canadian and Indonesian government and they conducted experiments involving the production of pharmaceuticals. In addition, they tested the shuttle's remote manipulator arm, which they used to release a satellite, then retrieve it and place it in the shuttle's cargo area.
After her flight, Sally spoke to many groups about her experiences as an astronaut. She encouraged young girls and women to become scientists or astronauts. Sally said, "When I go out and give talks at schools and an eight-year-old girl in the audience raises her hand and asks what she needs to do to become an astronaut, I like that". In 1984, Sally went on a second space flight. On this mission, she used the remote manipulator arm to launch a satellite designed to measure the sun's effect on the Earth's weather.
Although they achieved goals in different fields of air travel, Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride were very much alike. They were both tomboys when they were growing up, which made them feel that they were equal to men. It seemed as if their career choices were almost preordained by their tomboy-like activities during their early years. They had always trained to be as good as men and their success in their chosen fields was proof of their outstanding abilities. Both of them made the conscious decision not to have children. They felt that children would interfere in achieving the goals that they had set for themselves. They both set records for women in the area of travel. After they set these records, they both spoke to women about air or space travel. They encouraged women not to be afraid to be professionals even though it is a man's world out there.
Although their lives followed similar paths, they were different in many important aspects of their lives. Most importantly, they lived in different times. Usually this wouldn't make any difference, but in this case timing was a very important aspect. Amelia Earhart lived in a time where there were no women in the workplace and the few women that did work were looked upon as improper and not modest. The fact that Amelia Earhart defied these so called laws that society imposed upon women was considered very daring and she received a lot of criticism for what she did. However, Sally Ride lived in a time where many women were employed. The women that worked were considered courageous and were praised for their efforts. Therefore, when Sally Ride took off from Cape Canaveral, half a million people were there to give her support. Another important difference between Amelia and Sally was that Amelia died trying to break her record but Sally survived and was able to tell of her experiences. When Amelia disappeared Americans were disappointed because they would never hear Amelia's experiences on her last flight.
I believe that Amelia Earhart made a substantial impact on the Sally Ride's life. Earhart went against what people expected of women during the 1920's and 1930's She broke major records in aviation for women even though it hadn't been done before. When Sally Ride was growing up there hadn't been any women in space. Like Amelia Earhart, Ride went against what had been accepted by society and became the first woman in space.
Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride were two women who went against what society expected of them and achieved major goals in fields that had been reserved for men. They each influenced many women to become professionals, using the slogan 'If I did it, you can too'. In Earhart's time there were few, if any, women in the workplace. She showed women that they could accomplish as many goals as men. Before Sally Ride, there had been no women in space. She showed people that women are as intelligent as men and can also be important to their country.