What unique challenges do female astronauts face versus their male counterparts?
Kathryn Sullivan, director of Battelle Center at Ohio State, responds:
I would say the greatest challenge facing women astronauts (also women in many other high performance, competitive fields) centers on the questions of family and children. In general, men rarely face choices that pit their individual development and professional achievement against finding a supportive spouse or having children. A woman's prime child-bearing years coincide with pivotal years for professional achievement and advancement, forcing her to make some tough decisions about family and career. In terms of physical strength, the microgravity environment and precision nature of many tasks take some of this out of play. Small stature is a disadvantage for women astronauts hoping to do a spacewalk, due to shortcomings in the current spacesuit design and past NASA decisions to limit the range of sizes in the inventory.