STEM Female Role Model Spotlight: Rhea Seddon – Astronaut, Doctor, Mom

Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon was one of six women in the first class of NASA astronauts to include females.  She graduated from medical school in 1973, completed a surgical residency, and worked as an emergency room physician before she was accepted as an astronaut candidate in 1979.  She is an avid pilot and passionate advocate for young women in STEM fields and patient safety training initiatives.

Her first flight into space was on Discovery in 1985, and her second and third flights were on Columbia in 1991 and 1993.  She flew as a mission specialist and as a payload commander for Spacelab, and tallied over 722 hours in space.

After leaving NASA in 1997, she went back into the medical field, working for the Vanderbilt Medical Group in Nashville for eleven years before moving to her current position with LifeWing Partners, LLC.  She is not afraid to stand up for others in her patient safety advocacy work, but she is also not afraid to stand up for herself.  In 2008 she filed a gender-discrimination suit against former employer Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Married to a fellow astronaut, she blazed trials at NASA by becoming not only one of the first women astronauts, but also the first active astronaut to have a baby – in fact, she had three while at NASA.  And she did it all while keeping her medical skills sharp working on the side at the ER and balancing family life with two astronauts in the family.

Rhea Seddon is an impressive STEM female role model, and a good example of how you can work in several fields – medicine, science, safety, advocacy – and tie them all together into a successful career that positively impacts society.






Filed under Role Models

2 responses to “STEM Female Role Model Spotlight: Rhea Seddon – Astronaut, Doctor, Mom

  1. Anonymous

    My only concern is … Do these role models practise what they preach????


    • I’m not really sure what you mean here – I select the STEM female role models as women who have excelled in their chosen STEM fields and are upstanding citizens as far as the public record goes. They don’t ‘preach’ anything as far as I know. They are just meant to be examples to girls of women who have gone into (usually male-dominated) STEM fields and done really well there. Studies have shown that girls will often avoid going into STEM fields simply because they don’t see any women in them, especially at the top, and conclude that those aren’t jobs for women. These spotlights are meant to show that, while often outnumbered, women are not only present in these fields, but have been there for a while and are doing quite well.


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