The Google Doodle for March 8, 2017, marks International Women’s Day by celebrating 13 women around the world who shaped history—including astronaut Sally Ride.
The doodle shows Ride in space giving a high-five to a young girl. Ride blasted off aboard the space shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983, to become America’s first woman in space. She later became a champion of science education, especially for girls.
Ride co-founded a company, Sally Ride Science, to inspire young people to study science and to imagine themselves in science and technology careers. Sally Ride Science became part of UC San Diego in 2015. The new nonprofit, Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego, is overseen by UC San Diego Extension in partnership with San Diego Supercomputer Center and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Ride is pictured in the Google Doodle along with Miriam Makeba, a South African singer and civil rights activist, and Halet Çambel, a Turkish archaeologist and Olympic fencer who was the first Muslim woman to compete in the Olympic Games.
Ride died of pancreatic cancer in 2012. She was previously honored with a Google Doodle on May 26, 2015, which would have been her 64th birthday. That doodle featured a series of animated scenes, including Ride using the space shuttle’s robotic arm and inspiring an auditorium of girls to defy gravity.
International Women’s Day grew out of socialist and labor observances in the early 1900s. In 1977 the United Nations invited member countries to proclaim March 8 as a day devoted to women’s rights and world peace.
In a statement on the 2017 observance, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said, “International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”
In the United States, March is Women’s History Month. That observance was first proclaimed by President Barack Obama in 2011.
Google Doodles got their start in 1998 with a stick-figure sketch marking the Burning Man festival. At first the doodles mostly celebrated familiar holidays. Over time they evolved to represent a wide range of events, birthdays, and anniversaries. Doodle subjects are chosen to reflect “Google’s personality and love for innovation,” the company says.