the Skimm With: Dr. Nicola Fox
To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’ve been highlighting some of the different orgs and people making waves for women’s representation.
Last up is Dr. Nicola Fox, the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate — and only the second woman in the org’s history to be its head of science. While there’s still a gender gap in space science — not to mention aboard space shuttles — Dr. Fox and her colleagues are working tirelessly to change that. Here’s what she had to say about female representation in the field.
Q: Why has there been a gender gap in space research and exploration?
STEM has been historically male-dominated for far too long. Just recently, women have been encouraged more and more from a young age to follow their dreams and pursue careers in STEM. [Also], a male-dominated field can sometimes lead to injustices and a harsh environment in which to be a female or a minority voice. This can result in either dropping out or bypassing careers in space research and exploration altogether.
Q: What is the current state of women’s representation in space research and exploration?
The total percentage of women at NASA is 34 percent ... What is exciting is our number of women in STEM has nearly doubled since 1993 and we have seen a major increase in female leaders in space research and exploration. To give just a snapshot, the last two astronaut classes selected included the highest percentage of women in history with 50 percent for the class of 2013 and 45 percent for the class of 2017 … [Now] Vanessa Wyche is the first African American woman to lead the Johnson Space Center and Kathy Lueders is the first woman to lead human spaceflight at NASA.
Q: NASA’s hoping to land the first woman on the moon as part of the Artemis missions. Why’s that important?
When Artemis I launched in 2022, NASA was launched into a new generation of scientific exploration — one that is more diverse and representative of our country. We call it the Artemis Generation. It is so important to have everyone represented in all aspects of what we do at NASA because diverse perspectives bring new ideas to the table, improve mission capability, and lead us to mission success.
P.S. Want to see all of our interviews from this year’s Women’s History Month? Click here.
Psst, this interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Yesterday, Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand, while Reese Witherspoon shared some personal news. TV lovers, your Sunday evenings are about to get twice as nice — with new seasons of “Succession” and “Yellowjackets” premiering tomorrow. In other TV news, a new PBS documentary is putting Dr. Anthony Fauci under a microscope. And the final season of “You” is officially on the way. Meanwhile, the White House had some very special guests last week: the “Ted Lasso” cast for a convo on mental health, followed by Bruce Springsteen, Mindy Kaling, and other celebrities for an awards ceremony. For music lovers, flying overseas might be the surest — and most affordable — way to see Queen Bey’s “Renaissance” tour, while Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish, and Lana Del Rey will be headlining Lollapalooza this summer.
Pearls are getting a glow-up, with modern twists anyone can nail. Speaking of, you don’t have to be rich to have “rich-girl” nails. While aura manicures are a whole vibe. Plus, for better or worse, fashion is saying ‘welcome back’ to frosted lipstick, low-rise jeans, and perms. And, millennials might have ruined work and milk, but at least they saved America’s feet.
In the environment...
In things we should care about: The world only has until the 2030s to stop “irrevocable damage” to the planet. And by 2050, twice as many city dwellers won’t have access to safe water. That info comes as California is recovering after yet another atmospheric river — and all the flooding, snowfall, and powerful winds it produced. Meanwhile, as everyone's favorite butterflies are dying, a new mosquito species is buzzing around Florida. And in brighter news, however temporary, skiers are gliding through an abnormally long season. Plus, if you’ve ever wondered what the soothing sounds of nature look like, well, you’re welcome.
*Slams laptop shut until Monday.* We know the feeling. And we’ve got some tips for escape.
Cherry blossom season is in bloom. Every year, people across the US (and, really, the world) eagerly wait for the few weeks when the pretty pink and white petals cover the Japanese flowering trees. Some track the short-lived bloom in their hometowns. Others organize trips to see the country’s most famous group of them at DC’s National Mall — where they are currently in peak bloom. But even if you can’t travel to see them, there are plenty of ways to get in on the fun. Like...
Keep tabs. It’s nearly impossible to say when the elusive blossoms will make their highly anticipated appearance, particularly since it often varies by city. But there are some tools that’ll help take the guesswork out of finding the perfect blossom. New Yorkers should check out the Central Park Conservancy or New York Botanical Garden trackers. While DC residents — or anyone else who wants a peek at the action — can watch this bloom cam.
Expand your scope. DC, New York, and Japan are some of the most popular places to see cherry blossoms — but they’re not the only ones. California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, and even Texas all have their own beautiful blooms.
Celebrate the traditional way. The cherry blossom, or sakura, is Japan’s unofficial national flower — so it’s no surprise that the country is also the epicenter of the cherry blossom frenzy. There, locals celebrate by gathering under the trees with food, music, and friends and family (a tradition known as hanami). To do the same wherever you are, consider hosting a cherry blossom viewing party or attending a local cherry blossom festival.
Get a taste. Did you know that cherry blossoms are edible? In fact, there are lots of ways to add a bit of flower power to snacks and drinks. Steep a few salt-cured cherry blossoms in hot water to make your own version of sakurayu, a Japanese tea. Or, use the pickled flowers to make sakura mochi. You could also decorate a batch of buttery shortbread cookies with some fresh blooms. And toast to the trees with one of these cherry blossom-inspired cocktails.
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