Not enough that woman is cosmonaut, journalists need to ask about her hair

As the first woman Russia has sent into space for 17 years and the first to be sent to the International Space Station, you could forgive engineer Yelena Serova for thinking that her seven years of training had put her on a par with her male colleagues.

But at a televised press conference on Wednesday Serova had to fend off a barrage of questions about her hairstyle and how she would bond with her 11-year-old daughter while spending almost six months in orbit.

The 38-year-old has repeatedly been asked about her gender in previous interviews and at one point offered to give a demonstration of how she would wash her hair in space, but by Wednesday her patience had run out.

“Can I ask a question too? Aren’t you interested in the hair styles of my colleagues?” she asked journalists.

She stressed: “My flight is my job. I feel a huge responsibility towards the people who taught and trained us and I want to tell them: we won’t let you down!”

Serova docked on the ISS today after blasting off from Kazakhstan with fellow cosmonauts Barry Wilmore of Nasa and Russian Alexander Samokutyayev.

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