Sally Ride, physicist and first American woman in space, would have been 64 on Tuesday. Google honored her with a Google Doodle. Ride's accomplishments were many, but being the first woman had its downsides. Ride was reminded of her gender at every turn - from being called "the prettiest member of the crew" to being asked by a reporter if she would cry should something go wrong with the shuttle.
A telling example was given by The American Prospect: "NASA had to make some adjustments to accommodate the women in Ride's astronaut class and later as it prepared to send her to space. It added a women's locker room, which astronaut Judy Resnik, who later died in the Challenger explosion, festooned with a Tom Selleck poster. Rather than force astronauts to use urine-catching devices that resembled condoms, NASA added commodes to space vessels. Tampons were packed with their strings connecting them, like a strip of sausages, so they wouldn't float away. Engineers asked Ride, 'Is 100 the right number?' She would be in space for a week. 'That would not be the right number,' she told them. At every turn, her difference was made clear to her."
"We just want to be safe," the engineers replied, according to Vox.