Space Pioneer Yelena Sorova Shut Down Sexism At A Press Conference In An Amazing Way — VIDEO
Even in outer space, you can’t escape sexism. At least, that’s what Yelena Sorova, the first Russian woman to travel to the International Space Station learned recently: In the middle of a press conference about her recent mission to the ISS, a reporter asked Sorova a sexist question about her hairstyle, of all things.
How is this relevant, you might ask? If you’re thinking, “not at all,” then you’re on the same wavelength as Sorova. Aware that an inquiry about her daily hair routine in space was unrelated to, well, anything at all, Sorova decided not to dignify the question with an answer. Rather, she promptly responded with a pointed question of her own, “Why don’t you ask the question about [fellow cosmonaut] Alexander’s hair?”
You go, Sorova.
This question came at the tail end of a press conference peppered with parenting, lifestyle, and beauty questions, all directed at Sorova, despite the fact that five other cosmonauts were alongside her on the panel. Though the press conference was meant to welcome three new crew members to Thursday's ISS trip — NASA's Barry Wilmore, Russia's Alexander Samokutyaev, and Sorova — the 30-minute conference spent a little too much time focusing on the more earthly matters of Sorova's lifestyle choices.
Targeting Sorova with questions about how her daughter felt about being left behind — without posing similar inquiries to her male counterparts — made it clear to Sorova that, as the mission's only female, she was being treated differently. Sorova responded to the inquiry about her daughter by reminding reporters that her husband would be home with her daughter during the mission — the same way that the other cosmonauts on the panel were leaving their own children behind with their partners.
Even though the director of Russia’s premier space medical institute said women were too “fragile and delicate” to lead missions to Mars, Serova has serious credentials: After studying at the prestigious Moscow Aviation Institute she was hand-selected by former head of the Russian Space Forces, Vladimir Popovkin, for the latest ISS mission.
If her diplomatic responses to the sexist press conference inquiries are any indication of how Serova behaves under pressure, there’s no reason anyone should doubt her ability to handle the challenges and stresses of an ISS mission. Take that, gender-based stereotypes: this incredibly smart, driven, and talented Russian powerhouse is headed for the stars.