Tam O'Shaughnessy - Wikipedia
Tam Elizabeth O'Shaughnessy (born January 27, ) is an American children's science writer and former professional tennis player who co-founded, with Sally Ride, the science education company Sally Ride Science. The company was relaunched as a nonprofit entity, Sally Ride Science at UC. Tam O'Shaughnessy, Partner of Astronaut Sally Ride, On 27 Years of Love friendship, which blossomed into a deep and lasting relationship. Sally Ride — the United States' first woman in space — has inspired Tam O' Shaughnessy and Sally Ride enjoying a day out while traveling in Australia. of their relationship was "my national coming out, and Sally's too.
The organization continues in Ride's name to inspire young people of all backgrounds. As described by O'Shaughnessy, Ride was a nurturing person both in her personal and professional life. She supported all of the women who followed in her footsteps at NASA, "involving them in decision-making and kind of mentoring them. Here they can be seen together in Australia.
And "having role models that are visible in our society and around the world is just, it's priceless," O'Shaughnessy said. O'Shaughnessy discussed the unfortunate truth that there are too few women and people of color represented in STEM fields, and those in STEM continue to face harassment and discouragement. Still, for many, Ride was the role model that showed them that they, too, could achieve greatness; her achievements made their dreams possible.
Ride even famously said, "You can't be what you can't see," which speaks to the power of representation, said Sarah McBride, the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. And she also knew that she really felt like her life got made because she majored in science and physics. And it taught her to think for herself, be able to critically evaluate things about her community, about her own health, whatever. And so she didn't understand why kids didn't really like science, why they weren't good at it, why the scores were horrid.
And she kind of started getting into it. And what was your focus at this time? They couldn't get the gist of the information, so it's sort of like what's going on here? We've got to help kids at a very young age stay excited about science and really want to do the work to understand science concepts.
We just started talking about science education in our country and we just talked about it. And then we started writing children's science books together. How did the desire to release children's books together come to light?
This Pride, Be Inspired by Sally Ride's Legacy
That kind of grew out of that same interest that both of us had, which was we loved to go to bookstores, and we'd look at the science section, but also science fiction, biographies, nutrition, whatever, we just loved book stores. But what we noticed in the mids was that the science section had like three books in it, and the non-fiction was much slimmer than the fiction for kids.
And then we'd pick up science books for kids, and they just weren't very good. Isaac Asimov wrote great children's science books.
Anyway, we just thought, "Maybe we can do this. Our science writing worked really well and we just loved working on these books. And out of all of this, Sally Ride Science was born? And this program has been going for 19 years now and it's still going.
But that turned out to just be a really exciting educational program with mission control for undergraduate students at UCSD and they did all the programming and so on for the camera on the shuttle and then the space station. But then the middle schools from around the country would send their selections to UCSD mission control, they would get relayed to NASA, to real mission in Houston, and then transmitted up to the space shuttle and later the space station, and the camera would get programmed, the photos that were selected by students would get snapped, and everything would get relayed backwards to UCSD and out to the schools.
All these experiences came together and we started talking to some of our friends about science education in our country not going so well, and maybe we can do something about it. But it's worked, and the good news is after Sally passed away, we were all really worried about our sponsors and would people still support the company without its charismatic leader?
And that also is a testament to Sally, because her vision for the company was to really make the company independent of her. That we would create excellent books and programs and events for students and teachers, and corporate America that would stand on their own … and we lucked out, that's what we did. Where maybe you didn't agree on something or where the course of your relationship might have shifted because of work?
Or did you guys keep that really separate? I think overall we actually did really well living and working together, and spending a ton of time together.
This Pride, Be Inspired by Sally Ride's Legacy
So we were working too hard and then we were talking about the company too much. And that really helped. We liked each other too much and we wanted that private romantic side there, too. But it took us a while because the company was just so absorbing. What were some differences between you and Sally? On the gay side of things, Sally and I are very different human beings. We have a ton in common, but Sally very seldom thought about what other people thought of her. She just didn't care. And I'm more a person that … I'll give you an example: But it would cross my mind, I'd just be thinking, "Oh I wonder what these two are thinking?
Are they wondering if we're gay? In hindsight, Sally and I could've been open.Sally Ride: Curating Her Life
We should've been open quite a few years ago. That we wouldn't get the sponsorships from General Electric, Exxon Mobile, and on and on you go.
I wish I could've married Sally, I would've married her in a heartbeat. We were domestic partners the last 12 years. They divorced in Scott, who is known as Bear.
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It turns out, though, that Tam is a woman CEO of the Sally Ride Science organization and Ride, being in a relationship with her for nearly three decades, must have been gay. Even had I known that, I doubt that I would have mentioned it, since Ride was, by all accounts a private person. As the NYT notes: Ride was known for guarding her privacy. She rejected most offers for product endorsements, memoirs and movies, and her reticence lasted to the end.
At her request, NASA kept her illness secret. And is it all that important these days? Now talk about a buried lede!