- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (January 17, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316338907
- ISBN-13: 978-0316338905
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 362 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars Paperback – January 17, 2017
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Goodreads Choice Awards finalist
"Illuminating...these women are vividly depicted at work, at play, in and out of love, raising children--and making history. What a team--and what a story!"
―Gene Seymour, USA Today (3.5 stars/4)
"The women's stories are fun, intense, and endearing, and they give a new perspective on the rise of the space age."―Popular Science
"A marvelous book.... When Neil Armstrong made his 'giant leap for mankind,' there was womankind in the control room."
―Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
"Immersive, evocative.... Superbly readable.... Holt's poignant narrative should be required reading."
―Maya Gittelman, Bookreporter
"Holt investigates the fascinating lives and important contributions of these women, who defied the sexist stereotypes of their times to play pivotal roles in sending the first rockets beyond Earth."
"An intriguing account of the young, female 'human computers' who worked at Caltech's JPL. Be inspired by their work on America's first satellite and other groundbreaking projects, against the social backdrop of the Space Age, slowly changing gender norms, and the dawn of computers."―Estelle Tang, Elle, "5 Books That You Can Read With Your Mom"
"Holt argues that these women's calculations played an under-appreciated part in NASA's towering achievements.... Here, math is dramatic, not mundane. Calculating is a physical, even athletic, act.... Holt depicts the human computers' life stories vividly."
―Jennifer Light, Nature
"Women were obviously just as vital to innovation and progress. Rise of the Rocket Girls proves that by reexamining the space age-specifically, the group of women who redesigned rocket science in the '40s and '50s and made that 'one small step for man' possible in the first place."
―Isabella Biedenharn, Christian Holub, Dana Getz, Entertainment Weekly
"NASA's 'Rocket Girls' are no longer forgotten history. Thanks to a new book, these female pioneers who helped the U.S. win the space race are finally getting their due... Holt documents the lives of these women, who were not only pioneers in their profession, but also in their personal lives."
―Naomi Shavin, Smithsonian
"A must read for any women in tech or interested in technology!"―Girls Who Code
About the Author
Nathalia Holt is the author of Cured: The People Who Defeated HIV and a former Fellow at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Slate, Popular Science, and Time. She lives in Boston.
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As the work grew, and young JPL expanded, the number of women "computers" (they computed! The term predates the machines) grew. The woman who was in charge of the "computers," Macie Roberts, hired only women for the department, because she wanted to preserve the camaraderie and team spirit so essential to this critical work. Thus, in a benevolent form of gender discrimination, JPL developed a sterling team of brilliant women. Macie often reminded the women, "In this job you need to look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, and work like a dog."
As we learn about the development of rocketry, the author, Nathalia Holt, weaves in cultural developments, such as the invention of pantyhose and the rise of the women's liberation movement. She also includes snippets from the women's personal lives (like the fact that pregnancy meant instant termination--until the program realized it was dead without the women computers, and adapted flexibility to accommodate them).
The women went from pencils and notebook paper to making history. Their calculations put the first man on the moon. Their formulas became code, and they became the first computer programmers. As Holt says, "You can write a lot of programs in five decades. The code that (the women) wrote would continue to work its way into spacecraft, navigation systems, climate studies, and Mars rovers. It would get spliced up and repurposed, pasted into different missions, sent out into space, driven on far-off planets...to (currently orbiting Mars and Saturn spacecraft)...to future Earth-orbiting instruments designed to study our own world."
If you are one of those who believes females aren't geared toward math and science, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to read this engaging, compelling book. It will tell you of a time when women, using only their minds and pencils, rendered the complex calculations that allowed the United States of America to have a space program at all.
I highly recommend this to anyone interested in our space program.
I also highly recommend it to anyone who has any doubts of a woman's ability to succeed in a Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) field.
Just an amazing story about some amazingly talented women who did amazing things.