The seeds of Cosmic Girls were sown in the 1960’s, with the first space launches. In every corner of the world, children wondered how they might take part in the incredible marvel of space travel. Some lucky boys’ astronaut dreams were encouraged. But without STEM education, without systems of support, training, and encouragement, most girls’ hopes about going to space were dismissed as impossible dreams.
As a child, Dr. Mindy Howard had dreamed of being an astronaut herself, and in pursuit of that goal, built a career in the fields of human factors engineering, sustainability and training. Work took her around the world, where she found opportunities for girls to enter science-based careers to be limited by many factors; entrenched gender-based stereotypes, few strong female role models, and girls’ own self-limiting beliefs. Howard began wondering: how could girls around the world who dream of space/ science careers get the necessary education, support, and training? What would it take to level the playing field, so that more girls with grit and aptitude could become STEM professionals? Could we provide opportunities for all girls– not just those from Western countries with means, but those from diverse communities around the world– to pursue their space dreams?
Despite sixty years of space exploration, gender inequality has kept women from being equally represented in the space industry. At present, 656 individuals have traveled to space. Less than 12% were women. To date there are just 12 countries which have sent female astronauts into space. Clearly, it's time to change those stats.
In the fall of 2022, The Royal Dutch Mint planned to take a visionary step for gender equality by creating a coin to feature a Dutch female astronaut. Upon realizing that The Netherlands was one of so many countries without a female astronaut, the theme of the coin was changed to "Women to Space" to help increase worldwide awareness of the need for change.
Cosmic Girls was born on two continents - The Netherlands and The United States - to take on this worthy challenge.
We recognize that girls often need extra reinforcement to go after what they want– especially when what they want is literally to reach for the stars.
In 2024, Cosmic Girls will launch its first competition for girls who want to become astronauts. All entrants can access curriculum leading to upskilling in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and developing key life skills that enable them to soar. Cosmic Girls competition entrants will also gain astronaut skills virtually, and the six lucky finalists will further develop these skills in person, at world class training facilities. The competition will provide one lucky winner a trip to space on a suborbital flight!
The space industry’s long-term sustainability depends upon broadening the astronaut talent pool and space industry pipelines. Cosmic Girls is driven to play a part in these developments for two reasons. First, we want to bring as many qualified individuals into space programs as possible. Second, as space travel becomes an industry, we want to do what we can to equip young girls to be part of the conversation - and participation! Until now, space travel has been shaped by the concerns of men. Cosmic Girls knows that space travel must also be informed by voices that represent women, the other half of humankind.
Support us on this incredible mission, so we can all fly high!