Have you ever looked up at the stars and wondered what it would be like to go to the moon? Or have you ever watched a test rocket launch into orbit and wanted to know how you could work for NASA, too? While becoming an astronaut is usually the first profession that people think of when it comes to working in space, there are hundreds of other jobs you can do if you're interested in the field.
Unfortunately, not a lot of women work in space. According to a 2019 Washington Post article on NASA's 2017 equal employment opportunity annual report, only about a third of employees were female, and women made up just 28% of senior executive leadership positions. Meanwhile, only 11.5% of astronauts have been women, per a 2020 report. But just because these numbers are low doesn't mean there aren't jobs for women in space—there just needs to be more opportunities for women to come into these positions.
So, let's honor some of the women who do currently hold space positions, so they can inspire future generations to follow in their footsteps. Below are nine women in space you should follow on Instagram to support their career achievements.
Women in space to follow on Instagram:
1. Christina Hammock Koch (@astro_christina)
Christina Hammock Koch is an American engineer and NASA astronaut who flew back to Earth on February 6, 2020, after being a flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 59, 60, and 61. She set the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman with a total of 328 days in space. Now, she's learning about the SpaceX Starship back on Earth and posting photos of her time in space on her Instagram.
2. Dr. Mae Jemison (@therealmaejemison)
Dr. Jemison is the first woman of color to ever go to space, as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. She recently released the book Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life, which follows her journey becoming a chemical engineer, scientist, physician, and astronaut.
3. Jeanette Epps, PhD (@jeanette.epps)
Dr. Epps is an American aerospace engineer and NASA astronaut. She was recently assigned by NASA to join the first operational crewed flight of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a six-month expedition to the International Space Station, which is planning to launch sometime this year. While this spaceflight will be the first for Dr. Epps, we expect this won't be her last.
4. Alyssa Carson (@nasablueberry)
Alyssa Carson might only be 20-years-old, but she's also the world's youngest astronaut-in-training with the goal of becoming one of the first people to land on Mars. On her Instagram you can find images of her studying, working in the lab, and talking all things space.
5. Kellie Gerardi (@kelliegerardi)
If you're looking to follow a multi-hyphenate spacewoman, then Gerardi is your person. According to her website, she is a bioastronautics researcher with the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences, an author, and an aerospace and defense professional. But while she discusses space and her career achievement on Instagram, she also posts incredibly cute pictures of her daughter who is also interested in learning about space.
6. Camille Calibeo (@thegalacticgal)
Calibeo, aka The Galactic Gal, is an aerospace engineer turned business strategist at Lockheed Martin Space and a public speaker who talks about space exploration and her path to aerospace. Her Instagram account provides info on women in STEAM (STEM and art) and space technologies.
7. Jessica Meir (@astro_jessica)
Meir is a NASA astronaut, marine biologist, and physiologist; she recently served as a flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 61 and 62 from September 25, 2019, through April 17, 2020. According to her Instagram, she is the Astronaut Support Person (ASP) for a SpaceX crew and was part of a team to select the next round of astronauts from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
8. Kat Echazarreta (@kat_echz)
Echazarreta moved from Mexico to the U.S. when she was 7-years-old. Since then, she has obtained a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and become an electrical engineer in the space industry, where she is currently working on the Europa Clipper mission to send a spacecraft to orbit around Jupiter. On her Instagram, she discusses why she became an electrical engineer, the kind of jobs you can do with this career, and what it's like being a woman who works in space and STEM.
9. Joan Marie (@yourfemaleengineer)
This NASA engineer and part-time science communicator is encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM and space on her Instagram. Some of the ways she's doing this is by posting images of her working at NASA, Reels about her career "failures," and discussions about her Latina heritage.