"In the 1940s, an elite team of mathematicians and scientists started working on a project that would carry the U.S. into space, then on to the moon and Mars. They would eventually become NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (or JPL), but here's what made them so unusual: Many of the people who charted the course to space exploration were women. Nathalia Holt tells their story in her new book, 'Rise of the Rocket Girls' Holt tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that the women worked as 'computers.'
'In a time before the digital devices that we're used to today, it was humans that were doing the calculations,' she says. 'And so you needed these teams of people — many of whom were women, especially during World War II — and they were responsible for the math.'... Today, Holt says, 'There is hardly a mission that you can find in NASA that these women haven't touched.'"
Holt hopes that her new book will inspire girls and women of all ages to pursue their interests in science and technology: "My hope is that these women serve as role models, not just for my daughter of course, but for all of the women that are interested in science. It's a difficult time for women in technology right now. In 1984, 37 percent of all bachelor's degrees in computer science were awarded to women, and today that number has dropped to 18 percent. And even for women that are working in science today, it's about half of all women that leave midcareer. So I think these stories are important for inspiring and being role models that are so much needed for women today."
A biography was also released last year on a trailblazing female rocket scientist, "Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist," at http://amzn.to/1SdB80b
To inspire your Mighty Girl with stories starring girls who love science, math, and engineering, visit our blog post, "Ignite Her Curiosity: 25 Books Starring Science-Loving Mighty Girls," at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10940
And, if you'd like to encourage your own aspiring scientist or astronaut, check out the science kits and toys in our blog post, "Wrapped up in Science: Top 40 Science Toys for Mighty Girls," at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10528