The “thirty-five new guys”, affectionately known as TFNG, was the 1978 class of trainees for NASA’s space program. TFNG were the first class of Astronauts since 1969 and a ground-breaking class for multiple reasons. It was the first group to include African American astronauts, Asian American astronauts, and the first official class of astronauts to include women. Of the 35 astronauts in TFNG, six of them were women, namely Dr. Judith Resnik, Dr. Sally Ride, Dr. Rhea Seddon, Sr. Kathryn Sullivan, Dr. Shannon Lucid, and Dr. Anna Fisher.
In this paper, we will explore the roles of NASA’s first official women to join the space program. We will do so not only by looking at NASA’s history with women and the history of the six astronauts, but by looking at multiple factors. Why were these women chosen? Were they chosen for their education or for their job potential? How did having women in the space program change NASA? We will also explore the relationships between the male and female astronauts. How did they get along? How did the social structures (such as sexism and attitudes towards women on the job) of the late 1970s contribute to the relationships? How were the relationships between the class of TFNG - between the six women and the 29 men?
By exploring these questions, we will better understand the trials and tribulations women have overcome on the road to gender equality, and have the chance to learn about a moment of women’s history that certainly deserves to have its day in the sun.
Abby Scheiman Brown is a senior at Kent State University at Stark. She is currently completing a major in History with a minor in English and plans to move to Columbus after graduating. Her interests include movies, reading and painting in her free time.