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Early Friday morning, Peggy Whitson made history as the oldest female astronaut to go into space.

Her record-breaking voyage launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA/Getty Images.


Whitson's achievement is great news and a reminder that people are capable of doing amazing things at any age.

59 women have been to space, and Whitson set the record as the oldest to do so at 56 years old. While it's certainly an achievement, it's far from the first record she's ever set.

Whitson has already racked up 377 days in space — the most of any woman in history — and became the first woman to command the International Space Station back in 2007. She also brought other women along on her journey of busting through career barriers on the way to space. In 2008, Whitson and Pam Melroy became the first two women to dock a space shuttle and the ISS.

But the oldest man to ever go into space was 21 years older than Whitson is now.

Despite Whitson's many accomplishments in the space race, her name probably sounds a lot less familiar to you than the man who holds the record for oldest person in space: astronaut John Glenn, who set the record at the age of 77.

That's one astronomically large gender-age gap.

John Glenn about to make history on the US space shuttle Discovery. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Glenn first made history as the first astronaut to orbit Earth back in 1962. Aside from being an astronaut, he was also a U.S. senator from Ohio, so it's understandable that his name is quite well-known.

Still, it's hard not to wonder why female astronauts like Whitson, who have many records under their belt, get so much less recognition than their male counterparts.

Simply put, in many cases, men were given the opportunity to set records and make space history before women were ever allowed to.

This goes all the way back to the founding of the astronaut program in 1959; NASA didn't start accepting female astronaut candidates until 1978.

While there were women working at NASA when Alan B. Shepard became the first American to make the journey into space on May 15, 1961, at the age of 38, it wasn't until 22 years later, in 1983, that Sally Ride became the first American woman to do so at the age of 33.

Sally Ride, one of the first six female astronaut candidates. Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images.

In 1959, there was also a small group of female astronaut candidates called Mercury 13 who were deemed qualified to go into space by a privately funded program, the BBC reported. Unfortunately, NASA turned down Mercury 13 because at the time, astronauts were required to be test pilots first, a job women were not allowed to hold. Tricky little catch-22 there.

On Oct. 11, 1984, astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan became the first woman to do a spacewalk, 19 years after Ed White first ventured outside a spacecraft in 1965.

Kathryn D. Sullivan and her space suit on a 1990 shuttle mission. Photo via NASA/Wikimedia Commons. Ed White on his space walk, June 3, 1965. Photo via NASA.

In 1992, eight years after Sullivan's spacewalk, the first black woman in space, Mae Carol Jemison, made her inaugural trip just nine years after the first black man, Guy Bluford.

This kind of age gap between genders doesn't exist in a vacuum.

The last Oscars season saw an average age difference of 10 years between the male and female nominated actors. This kind of discrepancy is the result of a number of factors, including a drop-off in available roles for women over a certain age and the fact that younger actresses are often cast to play older roles, not to mention the age gap between male and female actors who play romantic pairs on screen, which is even wider.

Jennifer Lawrence and Bryan Cranston, best actor and actress nominees at the 88th Academy Awards. Photos by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

This matters because when we get used to seeing things a certain way, we start to accept that that's just how things are. An alarming example of this turned up in a study conducted in 2014 by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which found that in crowd scenes in movies, women make up about 17% of the crowd — a stat that mirrors the 16.9% of women who held Fortune 500 corporate board seats in 2014 and isn't far off from the 19.4% of women elected to Congress in 2015.

"We just heard a fascinating and disturbing study, where they looked at the ratio of men and women in groups," Davis said on NPR in 2013 when that 17% number came up again. "They found that if there's 17% women, the men in the group think it's 50-50. And if there's 33% women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men."

Just because something feels equal doesn't mean it actually is. Seeing women of all ages, races, and body types playing the same range of roles male actors get to play (and getting paid the same amount) isn't just important because it's nice for people to see people like themselves on screen. It's important because these kinds of patterns subconsciously shape the way we see and interact with the real world around us every day.

The good news: NASA has made huge strides in recent years toward closing its gender gap — and Peggy Whitson is just part of that success.

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet, Peggy Whitson, and Oleg Novitskiy. Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images.

Half of NASA's most recent class of astronauts are women, and they might be among the first humans to venture to Mars. Eileen Collins became the first woman shuttle commander in 1999 and returned to command again in 2006. In 2008, South Korean astronaut Yi So-yeon become her country's first space traveler when she boarded the International Space Station.

Men may have gotten to a lot of the "firsts" when it comes to setting records in space, but there's a whole universe of other records waiting to be set, many of which will probably be achieved by women.

This is what makes Whitson's achievement as the oldest woman in space so worth celebrating. Remember her name. She's changing the way we see the world and what we think women over the age of 50 are capable of. Who knows, maybe 22 years from now, when she's 78, Whitson will break John Glenn's record and become the oldest person ever in space.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

Education

All-female flight crews known as 'Night Witches' bombed the crap out of Nazi targets in WWII

The Germans were terrified of these pilots whose silent planes swooped in like ghosts.

The Night Witches were feared by the Germans for their stealth bombing runs.

If you like stories of amazing women, buckle up, because this one is a wild ride.

During WWII, the Soviet Air Force's 588th Night Bomber Regiment flew incredibly harrowing missions, bombing Germans with rudimentary biplanes in the dead of night. The Germans called them Nachthexen—"Night Witches"—because the only warning they had before the bombs hit was an ominous whooshing sound akin to a witch's broom.

The "whoosh" sound was due to the fact that the women would cut the planes' engines as they approached, gliding in stealthily before dropping their bombs. And the Night Witches moniker was fitting, considering the fact that the 588th was an all-female regiment.

Their missions were incredibly dangerous, especially considering how the women were equipped. Most of the recruits were in their late teens to mid-20s, and crew members had to learn how to pilot, navigate and maintain the aircraft so they could serve the regiment in any capacity. They underwent an intensive year of training to learn what usually took several years to master.

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This article originally appeared on July 2, 2019


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