At the end of March a team of five women will break barriers in space, an event investment bank UBS thinks is more than symbolic: It's pivotal to investors.
"NASA will make history with the first all-women spacewalk this month," UBS said in a note to investors on Monday titled "one giant leap for woman-kind." The event amplifies the messages of both space exploration and gender equality, UBS added, which "are both likely to have significant investment implications."
UBS pointed to research that gender equality "will have major economic implications," the bank said. Narrowing the gap between the percentage of men and women participating in the global labor force could add $12 trillion to the world's GDP in the next six years, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
Additionally, UBS found that companies where women make up at least 20 percent of either the board of directors or senior management "were more profitable than their less gender diverse peers on several metrics," the firm said.
The spacewalk on March 29 is being done to replace batteries on the outside of the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will be performing the EVA (extravehicular activity). Back on Earth, flight director Mary Lawrence and flight controllers Kristen Facciol and Jackie Kagey will guide the pair of astronauts. Facciol first announced the all female spacewalk with a tweet on Mar. 1.
"We are at a pivotal time in space exploration," UBS said.
UBS pointed to advancements by SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic as "important catalysts for the space economy." Analyst Carl Berrisford said in a note in November that, while traditional contractors will continue to grow, "the key growth catalyst for the space industry in the last two decades has come from the private sector."
Gwynne Shotwell, the president and COO of SpaceX, told CNBC in May that she hopes to inspire women to join space companies. When she was a teenager, Shotwell met a woman working as a female mechanical engineer. That woman became her role model and is the reason Shotwell now runs the day-to-day operations of one of the most valuable private companies in the world.
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