'Madame Mars': SF State-produced documentary calls for giant leap for womankind

A new SF State-produced documentary calls for a giant leap for womankind. Madame Mars, directed by Professor Emerita Jan Millsapps, explores the underrepresentation of women in space science. Millsapps presents the new film at a United Nations symposium in Vienna on June 18.

An Analog Mars trainee participates in a simulation at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. Photo courtesy of Jan Millsapps.

Film directed by Professor Emerita Jan Millsapps screens at United Nations symposium in Vienna.

In the 1967 made-for-late-night-television movie “Mars Needs Women,” an elderly man scoffs at the idea that females should be part of Martian civilization.

“That’s a gag. It’s a prank!” he exclaims, shaking his head.

This clip illustrates the underrepresentation of women in space and inspired “Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond,” a new 32-minute documentary directed by Professor Emerita of Cinema Jan Millsapps, a longtime feminist and space enthusiast. Women comprise about 10 percent of the humans who have flown into space, according to Space.com. Women are also largely under-represented in space science and technology.

“I grew up in the space age,” says Millsapps, who taught at SF State from 1987 to 2015. “I remember Sputnik as a kid. Apollo landed when I was in college, but I didn’t think I would be able to participate. I was sent to art class instead of calculus.”

Millsapps presented “Madame Mars” at the United Nations’ UNISPACE + 50 Symposium on June 18 in Vienna. She plans to screen the documentary on campus and at other Bay Area venues later this year.