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Moscow (UPI) Jun 14, 2013
Sexism played a role in the paucity of Russian women going into space, Yelena Dobrokvashina, who trained as a cosmonaut but never flew, said Friday.
Dobrokvashina said Russian woman rarely go into space because Russian men fear their antics would be diminished if shared with women, RIA Novosti reported.
Since the Soviet Union sent the first woman into space 50 years ago, only two Russian women have followed in her footsteps. By comparison, more than 50 women have participated in U.S. space missions.
"It is, of course, linked with the peculiarities of our mentality," Dobrokvashina said during a news conference on the 50th anniversary of the first female spaceflight. "Although they always said that everyone was equal -- men and women -- it's no secret that we live in a man's world."
"There was an opinion that men were scared that if women were to go into space ... [the men's] aura of heroism would be lost," she said.
The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, will mark the 50th anniversary of her flight on Sunday. She said last week the lack of female cosmonauts was tied to a string of unlucky coincidences, technical problems and a desire to protect women from accidents.
Dobrokvashina also denied talk that female cosmonauts were required to "perform experiments" to see whether they could conceive in outer space," RIA Novosti said.
"I think that to create a new person in the inhospitable environment -- with its weightlessness and high radiation levels -- is inhuman," she said. "Even in concentration camps, they probably wouldn't have done that."
While conditions in space affect men and women in similar ways, Dobrokvashina said she though women would make better cosmonauts than men.
"It's easier for men to survive physical challenges and short-lived stress, but nature made women for long, slow and tedious work," she said.
Dobrokvashina trained with Svetlana Savitskaya, the second Russian woman to go into space in 1982. The final Russian female cosmonaut, Yelena Kondakova, worked on the International Space Station for five months in 1994-95.
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