Student Kathy L. Jackson wearing pants as she greets Astronauts and MSFC Personnel(L-R); ASTRONAUTS Rusty Schweickart, Owen Garriott, and MSFC Skylab Program Manager Leland Belew. NASA/MSFC
In 1970, NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Centre was forced to address a tricky new issue in the realm of women in space: the validity of pants in the workplace.
Women and pants have a strange relationship throughout the 20th century, and further back, too, though for the moment we aren’t going to get into Joan of Arc wearing men’s armour. Pants — or trousers or slacks — began the last century as men’s clothing, but it wasn’t long before exceptions started to appear in the form of athletic wear. In the 1920s, women could wear knee-length bloomers or knickers while playing sports, though even this purposely use of traditionally men’s clothing didn’t protect women from drawing negative attention.
Nevertheless, women began favouring slacks in the 1920s and 1930s for comfort (and also pockets) often with disastrous results. In 1938, kindergarten teacher Helen Hulick was held in contempt and given a five-day jail sentence for appearing in court in slacks. And she wasn’t on trial — she was testifying against a burglar! She ultimately testified… ...