The Space Reviewin association with SpaceNews

ISDC 2012
The authors of articles in The Space Review, like the attendance of many space conferences like the NSS’s ISDC, remains overwhelmingly male. (credit: Explore Mars)

Are there going to be any women at this party?

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Last week was the tenth anniversary of The Space Review. These days barely a week goes by without somebody launching yet another space blog. There are now so many of them, with so much overlapping coverage, that it’s impossible to keep track. That has been one of the benefits of The Space Review: it is not a blog, it is a weekly journal, with longer-form opinion and commentary and even historical essays (sometimes with footnotes!) Although sometimes the essays stray into goofy territory, they are rarely partisan or uncivil, which cannot be said for many space blogs.

But if you go back over ten years of The Space Review, or even over the past year, you may notice something missing: women. There are almost no women who have written for The Space Review. We have the white, middle-aged male demographic pretty well covered, but that’s pretty much true of the space blogosphere too. Why are there no women writing for The Space Review?

If you step back and look at space activism/enthusiasm as a whole, it is a relatively stagnant field.

Alas, I don’t have a good answer why. There are a few women who are prominent in the space field, such as the current NASA Deputy Administrator and the CEO of SpaceX, among others, although female representation in space leadership positions is undoubtedly lower than it is for many other fields. Women are better represented in the space sciences, particularly astronomy and planetary sciences. The group Women in Aerospace has done a great job over the years supporting women in the field with recognition and scholarships. There are some women bloggers in the space field, and the best space policy website is run by a woman. But most female space bloggers tend to be located more in the sciences than other areas. It is certainly true that women are not well-represented in space enthusiast and activist communities, where a simple head count at space-related conferences reveals that their numbers are often less than twenty-five percent and sometimes under ten percent.

If you step back and look at space activism/enthusiasm as a whole, it is a relatively stagnant field. The spectrum of opinions is relatively narrow—largely spanning the range from conservative to conservative-libertarian—and the demographics are even narrower. My guess is that this is both a cause and a symptom of why the message of space settlement and expansion has not grown in appeal over the past four decades. But the lack of women writers for The Space Review is even more of an outlier.

The Space Review is a more civil forum than many space blogs. It should be able to attract more female voices. If they are posting in the comments, they are doing it anonymously. The women simply are not here. We’re missing something with their absence. Fifty percent of the population is female, and yet they are not represented on this site. How do we fix this? Can we fix this?