How This Trailblazing Female Cosmonaut Stood Up to Sexist Questions
Today, Yelena Serova became the fourth Russian woman to make it into outer space, and the first Russian woman ever to make it to the International Space Station.
The 38-year-old engineer, who has been preparing for this mission to space for 7 years, grew up in a small Russian village and went on to study at the Moscow Aviation Institute, according to The Guardian. Her incredible hard-work and general braininess led her to be hand-picked for the “trip” to ISS by the former head of the Russian Space Forces, Vladimir Popovkin. Today’s launch effectively made her the first female cosmonaut in 17 years.
But at a recent press conference, the questions that reporters asked of Serova didn’t have much to do with her expertise in the field. Instead, the flight engineer got thrown a series of gender-specific queries that completely differed from those asked of her male counterparts at the press conference.
First she was questioned about how her 11-year-old daughter would handle her departure. It wasn’t a totally off-color question, but as Mic pointed out, it’s rarely the kind of thing men are asked, especially in relation to their success.
Then a reporter chimed in with, “Are you going to take make-up with you?” Another asked Serova, “How are you planning to do your hair?”
Serova was very polite to a point, but then she hit back in the coolest way possible. “And I have a question for you! Why don’t you ask about [my male colleague] Alexander’s hair? This is my answer.”
“My flight is my job,” she stressed in the interview. “I’ll be the first Russian woman who will fly to the ISS. I feel a huge responsibility towards the people who taught and trained us and I want to tell them: We won’t let you down.” Serova successfully launched into space today in the Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan. We’re pretty sure it didn’t matter how she wore her hair.