Searching for Scientific Womanpower
Technocratic Feminism and the Politics of National Security, 1940-1980
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Series: Gender and American Culture
Title Page, Editorial Board, Copyright, Dedication
In the January 2005 “Summersgate” debacle, Harvard University president Lawrence Summers set off a storm of protest when he linked women’s underrepresentation in science and engineering to “issues of intrinsic aptitude.”1 Summers’s remarks made headlines around the globe and galvanized supporters of gender equity nationwide...
1. The War of “Trained Brains”
In March 1942, less than four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Barnard College dean Virginia Gildersleeve published an article in the New York Times Magazine surveying recent wartime developments. She warned that “a shortage is becoming apparent which is far more serious than the shortage of sugar, or even the shortage of rubber: this is the shortage of trained brains.”1
2. Endless Frontiers for Scientific Womanpower
In their 1946 Journal of the American Association of University Women article, “Science Out of Petticoats,” chemists Eleanor Horsey and Donna Price surveyed the status of women in postwar science. Compared with their own experiences as graduate students during the Great Depression, Horsey and Price agreed that prejudice against female scientists had noticeably decreased...
3. Scientific Womanpower Enters the Sputnik Era
In January 1958, Parade ran a feature article entitled “Meet Phyllis Weber— Housewife and Satellite Engineer.” The piece chronicled a day in the life of thirty-seven-year-old Weber, who was described as a wife, a mother of four, and the only woman engineer on the U.S. earth satellite program, Project Vanguard...
4. Science and the Second Wave
In October 1964, the Association of Women Students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sponsored a two-day symposium on American women in science and engineering. While “[a] conference at MIT on science and engineering is hardly a novelty,” quipped the institute’s president, Julius Stratton, “a symposium about women, on a campus . . . thought to be a man’s preserve, may well have appeared . . . as something remarkable.”1
In February 1982, the New England Chapter of AWIS hosted a wine and cheese reception to fete Edward Kennedy for his championing of the women in science legislation. The event, which was cosponsored by a number of women’s organizations such as the Boston section of the Society of Women Engineers, was attended by approximately 300 women and men, including the senator himself...