Women astronauts are better prepared to lead long-term space missions: study

Women may be better suited for long-term space missions.

Photo: Mikhail Nilov / Pixabay

Women astronauts are better equipped to lead long-term space missions, such as a trip to Mars.according to a new study published in the journal Acta Astronautica.

Women showed more mutual support, motivation and generation of a positive environment, while male leaders preferred team spirit, loyalty and achievement.

Both sexes were still very task oriented.

The researchers studied 824 reports from commanders at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, which replicates part of the spaceflight experience.

In the time period studied from 2009 to 2016 there were 27 female commanders who submitted 277 reports and 49 male commanders who wrote 541.

Study author Professor Inga Popovaitė, a sociologist at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) in Lithuania, said her findings suggest that women may be better suited for long-term space missions.

She said: “In 10-20 years, when missions to Mars start, it will be mixed groups that will be sent there.”

“Also, a woman astronaut is preparing for a flight to the moon in a few years,” he added.

“However, data on women in space is still lacking due to their low participation in both polar expeditions and space analogues. The dynamics of the mixed groups are compared with that of the male groups”, she mentioned.

As of 2021, only three women have served as commanders on the International Space Station during two decades of its operations.

Although the space is increasingly diverse, little is known about gender differences in leadership in isolated, confined and extreme settings.

Women’s reports had significantly higher positive sentiment scores and significantly lower negative sentiment scores.

Second, although both male and female commanders demonstrated task-oriented leadership behavior, female commanders spoke more frequently about their crew members.

Furthermore, in such discussions, male commanders focused on team spirit, loyalty, and achievement, and women emphasized mutual support, motivation, and a positive environment.

Third, the findings revealed that female commanders tend to use less specific words when talking about their daily activities.

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