April 24th: Gideon Sundback (#10) & Yvonne Cagle

Ten. It’s a nice, round number. It happens to be the number of Google Doodles that have been posted in the U.S. in 2012 thus far. Zero is also a nice, round number, and it happens to be the number of women honored in those ten Doodles. We’re one-third of the way through the year, and not a single Google Doodle shown in the United States has honored a woman.

Ten to zero.

Today’s Doodle honors Gideon Sundbäck, born April 24th, 1880, who contributed to the development of the zipper. Don’t get me wrong — I love zippers! I’m wearing one at this very moment. And, of course, I think there is room for levity in the Doodles series, and room for more off-the-beaten-path contributions. In fact, I think that those off-the-beaten-path contributions are a great way to highlight exciting role models, and could be a fabulous path to increasing the diversity of the Doodle pool.

But I find it difficult to believe not a single woman has risen to the status of Gideon Sundbäck, nor to the status of Robert Doisneau, Eadweard Muybridge, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Juan Gris, Akira Yoshizawa, Gioachino Rossini, Heinrich Hertz, Charles Dickens, or Nicholas Steno. And one of the reasons I find that hard to believe is because I am aware of the contributions, and the existence, of Alice Stokes Paul, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Augusta Savage, Osa Johnson, Amalie Noether, Sarah Vaughan, Soyo Oka, and Loretta Lynn. I want to be clear: that awareness was not hard to come by. There are some heavy hitters on the list of Google Doodle honorees, but there are heavy hitters on the list of Speaking Up For Us honorees as well. The lack of gender diversity in the U.S. 2012 lineup of Google Doodles is shameful and, honestly, it’s laughable. It is simply not that difficult to find women to include.

So today, at Speaking Up For Us, we’ll continue our work, and in response to the Doodle offering of Gideon Sundbäck, we’ll learn a little more about Yvonne D. Cagle, M.D., one of only 5 female African-American astronauts in NASA’s history.

Yvonne Cagle

Yvonne Cagle's astronaut portrait.

Dr. Cagle is both a medical doctor and a Colonel recently retired from the United States Air Force, in addition to her service as an astronaut at NASA. In her work, she combines this expertise, providing medical and rescue support in the context of aircraft missions. Dr. Cagle formerly worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center Occupational Health Clinic,  and though she has not flown a manned spaceflight mission as an astronaut, she has contributed to the astronaut corps by designing the protocols and screenings used for NASA’s remote duty operations. She is now based at NASA’s Ames Research Center, as a manager of the Commercial Suborbital Research Program and as a liaison to NASA’s commercial and academic partners in technology development. Additionally, she serves on the faculty of Stanford University and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and conducts research in biomedical technologies.


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