Girls with ponytails can be astronauts

It’s some job title,being an astronaut. But for a woman living on the International Space Station right now, it’s not the whole story. On Karen Nyberg’s Pintrest page, she gives her complete bio. It’s rather inspiring:

Astronaut by day. Aspiring quilter, crafter, artist, runner by night. Wife and Mommy 24/7. Currently living & working on the International Space Station.

I wrote a post recently about ‘inspiring women‘, I wondered who they were and I mentioned that my mum is my biggest inspiration. It’s a topic that I’ve been giving lots of thought to, and so when I heard about Karen Nyberg, I wanted to take a closer look.

She truly is an astronaut. Or, more precisely, she is the flight engineer on Expedition 36. Other astronauts have gained huge popularity in the past by tweeting about life in space, and now Karen Nyberg too is connecting with us earthlings through Pintrest.

Her profile, for me, says it all. She is a mother at all times – but she is also living in space (for six months). And, she is a quilter, a crafter, a runner and an artist. Quite simply, she is a woman who is telling us – you can do it all. You can be creative and intelligent, you can have hobbies and dreams, you can be a mother and have a family – and you can be an astronaut. See why I think she’s an inspiring woman?


Karen Nyberg’s boards sum up how diverse her interests are. Next to her pins on preparing for space and being in space, there are also boards on quilting and creative home projects. Yet my favourite has to be the board ‘hair and space’. To introduce it, she says this:

When girls see pictures of ponytails, don’t you think it stirs something inside them that says, that could be ME up there!

It’s an insight into Karen Nyberg’s understanding of her position and her reach. She knows full well how to attract young girls to her message. In fact, she has even posted a video of washing her long locks in space. She is telling us, look, I can have long girly hair, and be girly about having it – and I can be an astronaut.

I hope Karen Nyberg’s images of space are spread far and wide – and I hope her ability to inspire other women and girls is too. Girls were led to believe for too long that their place was in the home, working at hobbies and creative arts – not science and engineering and jobs like being an astronaut. Although much of society’s thinking around this has changed – there is still too much of an unspoken gender bias when it comes to careers such as astronaut and engineer.

Good on Karen Nyberg for shouting out to the world (via her nearly 9000 pintrest followers), that you can do it all and have it all and be whatever you want to be. A girl who wants to wear her hair long and spend her Saturdays quilting can be a mother and an astronaut too. And so she should.


The images in this post are taken from a wonderful, wonderful book which my Little Mister loves. It’s The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space by Helen Martin, Judith Simpson and Cheryl Orsini, and it’s published by Harper Collins Australia.

2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Girls with ponytails can be astronauts

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