Too few US citizens reflect on the fact that their “great enemy” of the cold war (the Soviet Union) which supposedly embodied all evil, was in fact far more egalitarian and far less racist than the USA. In the Soviet Union, education was provided to all while in the USA education was (and remains) abysmal at primary and secondary level. Soviet women became doctors, pilots, surgeons, scientists, engineers while US women were largely relegated to domestic servitude and mocked for any higher aspiration. As the Soviet Union was spread across so many countries and cultures it had to be mostly racism-free whereas the USA was built on slavery. So really it’s not surprising that the Soviet Union saw an opportunity to score another point in the game by putting the first woman into space. It wasn’t such as stretch for their society, but it was impossible for the USA until decades later.