Great leaders are visible within a company, they are people who are the role models.
Take Sally Ride for example, she was the first American woman in space. On the 18th of June 1983 she was just 32 years old when she travelled to space as a crew member on the Space Shuttle Challenger, flown by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States.
Whilst in space Sally controlled the robot which was used to deploy and retrieve satellites and the mission was a success. In 1984 she took a second flight into space, before later leaving NASA.
Sally was the first American woman in space, two others from the Soviet Union had gone before her. However, being the first female American in space brought her unheralded levels of fame and attention. Initially, Sally was not comfortable with this level of scrutiny and public spotlight, but after a while she grew to understand that she was indeed a role model and this was a very important role.
Shortly before her death, in 2012, she recorded a podcast interview with Harvard Business Review, where she admitted that young girls needed to see role models in whatever careers they might be, so that they could picture themselves doing those jobs someday in the future. She summarized that role models were vital because “you can’t be what you can’t see” (Harvard Business Review, 2012)[i].
As Sally embraced her role in popular culture, she wrote books for children, appeared on television shows, and in songs. She received a number of awards and recognitions and even had two schools named after her in the United States.
Sally Ride blazed a trail and was visible to young girls all across the United States. Since she retired from flight, another 49 females from America have travelled to space, and the late Sally continues to serve as an inspiration and role model to them and countless other young girls who have subsequently gone on to take roles at NASA or become involved in the study of physics, whom otherwise would not have without her to see.
[i] Harvard Business Review (2012) Sally Ride. Available from: https://hbr.org/2012/09/sally-ride [Last accessed: 13th November 2021]
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