Hey babes! How did your September go? I loved reading Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt this month.
When I read this book, I was struck by the Jet Propulsion Lab’s manager’s choice to hire all women to her team, in hopes of encouraging camaraderie among her team. I’m sure some would question this practice: Isn’t that “reverse discrimination?” But at a time when most teams, especially in STEM fields like computing, were completely male-dominated, it was important to have a place for these women to do their best work.
I personally work on a team that is almost only women, and I do think it has been helpful to me. It’s nice to not worry so much about whether a man is making more money or getting better assignments than I am. What do you think about working on a team that is made up of only women? How do you think this helped the Rocket Girls?
I felt a little surprised at how little I had learned previously about the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the women behind putting a man on the moon. We often talk about the first female astronaut - Sally Ride - but we say so little about the women who got her there. Both this book and Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly are proof that women have long done great work in the STEM fields; we just didn’t know it.
Were you surprised by the number of women helping to get a man on the moon? Why do you think our history books fail to mention this?
After finishing the book, I read an interview Holt gave to NPR in 2016. In it, she said “in 1984, 37% of all bachelor's degrees in computer science were awarded to women, and today that number has dropped to 18%. And even for women that are working in science today, it's about half of all women that leave mid-career.”
Yikes. We know the figures of women in STEM are dismal, which is why groups like Girls Who Code exist. But I didn’t realize that part of the problem is that the number of women in science, math and technology fields has been decreasing over the years.
How can we get more women to enter STEM fields? How do we even the playing field?
Answer these three questions below in the comments section and ask your own about the book. Additionally, look for Jemma’s post on next month’s book, Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? in a coming blog post.
- Alicia 🐶