In 1976, A Board Game Tried To Crack The Glass Stratosphere

This brightly colored astronaut appeared on the cover of "What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls," a board game from 1976. Astronaut was certainly a step up from some of the traditionally feminine careers presented in an earlier edition of the game (air hostess, for example), and yet there are two big things wrong with this picture. Do you know what they are?

First, while you can't blame the forward-looking makers of What Shall I Be? for including astronaut as a career path, there weren't any female astronauts when the game came out in 1976. Six women were among the 35 members of NASA's class of 1978—they were the first female astronauts. Among them was Sally Ride, who became the first American woman in space in 1983. (The Commies beat us to it by 20 years; Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova blasted into orbit in 1963, while NASA was still dithering over whether space travel would affect a woman's "special"—as in "gimme a tampon"—physiology.)

Second, the astronaut on the What Shall I Be? box was depicted walking on the lunar surface—something no woman has done. Shuttle commander Eileen Collins almost certainly would have been the first to do so had there been an active lunar program at NASA when she was flying space missions in the 1990s. It's a technicality perhaps, but the fact remains: it's 2008 and a woman has yet to walk on the moon.

In 1976, A Board Game Tried To Crack The Glass Stratosphere