Mae Jemison: First Black Woman in Space

As a black person and as well as a woman in science, I always knew I would be in the minority every time I walked into anything science related. Knowing that out of the whole room, there would only be a handful of black women in the room has become something I am accustomed to feeling. Because not many women like me go into STEM, it is always great to recognize the few women who have braved the hostile, patriarchal, world that is STEM.

February is Black History Month and in honor of this, I will be focusing on Mai Jemison. Born in Alabama in 1956, and raised in Chicago, Jemison was always interested in Science. Many teachers told her she should focus on other sciences like nursing, which would be more ‘geared’ towards females, but Jemison’s heart was turned towards space. She attended Stanford University at just 16 and graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering. She also obtained a medical degree from Cornell Medical College.

With her medical degree, she volunteered as a Peace Corp in Liberia and Sierra Leone. She still wanted to go to space so she joined NASA and helped with launch support and computer software calculations for many flights.

Jemison flew her first and only space mission on September 12, 1992 as a Mission Specialist on STS-47. She became the first black woman to travel into space, paving the way for so many women of color to go into space.

She left NASA and went into teaching, brightening up the young minds of students and being an inspiration for minorities all around the world.