This week, India became the first Asian nation to reach Mars when its orbiter entered the planet’s orbit on Wednesday — and this is the picture that was seen around the world to mark this historic event. It shows a group of female scientists at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) congratulating one another on the mission’s success.
The picture was widely shared on Twitter where Egyptian journalist and women’s rights activist Mona El-Tahawy tweeted: “Love this pic so much. When was the last time u saw women scientists celebrate space mission?”
In most mission room photos of historic space events or in films about space, women are rarely seen, making this photo both compelling and unique. Of course, ISRO, like many technical agencies, has far to go in terms of achieving gender balance in their workforce. As Rhitu Chatterjee of PRI’s The World observed in an op-ed, only 10 percent of ISRO’s engineers are female.
This fact, however, Chatterjee writes, is “why this new photograph of ISRO’s women scientists is invaluable. It shatters stereotypes about space research and Indian women. It forces society to acknowledge and appreciate the accomplishments of female scientists. And for little girls and young women seeing the picture, I hope it will broaden their horizons, giving them more options for what they can pursue and achieve.”
To read Chatterjee’s op-ed on The World, visit http://bit.ly/1u3fvGZ
Photo credit: Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images