Bolles Breaks Barriers

When choosing stories for our new, inhouse exhibit, Women in Air & Space Interactive Timeline, we sought to present a panorama of women of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and abilities. Co-funders for the exhibit, the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and the IF/THEN Initiative/Lyda Hill Philanthropies, introduced us to an amazing group of diverse women making contributions in their air and space careers today. Among the IF/THEN ambassadors we discovered, NASA’s Dana Bolles captured our hearts and our attention. 

According to Dana, who uses a wheelchair and artificial arms, the challenges of work as a space professional aren’t always about understanding the science, but sometimes, it’s about facing the assumptions others make about what Dana can (and cannot) accomplish. When talking to NASA recently about individuals with diverse abilities, Dana said, “By getting to know us first, without preconceived notions, the benefit is seeing the community for the beauty we bring to living life every day.”

As a child, Dana thought she might be at an advantage as an astronaut. She thought she’d suit the job well. “I would be in an environment,” she explains, “where I wouldn’t need the wheelchair, and the fact that I don’t have legs would be okay.” Dana began her NASA career in 1995 as a payload safety engineer at the Kennedy Space Center. Her work history at four NASA centers includes mission support roles, engineering, strategic communications, and most recently, on the Search for Life project. Dana’s NASA journey found her speaking at the 48th International Astronautical Congress in Italy. A diversity advocate, Dana volunteers for employee women’s resource groups, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ communities. 

“If we support girls to believe in themselves, no matter what barriers or obstacles are in their way, then they will change the world.” – Dana Bolles

See Dana’s story and explore more about women in air and space careers today in our Women in Air & Space Interactive Timeline, premiering in July. This new, exclusive exhibit is funded in part by ASTC and the IF/THEN Initiative/Lyda Hill Philanthropies. 

Posted by Nikki Statler at 2:10 PM
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