A few years ago I met a guy that works at JPL. We all treated him like a rock star and with reason: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is every engineering nerds dream job, right up there with Skunk Works and Disney’s Imagineers. My pal has pictures with every actor and director involved in space movies, as their mock ups are borrowed and used in films like Interstellar and Armageddon. Shortly after meeting him, his team told me they were hiring. Had I read Donna Shirley’s Managing Martians sooner, I would have been all in, even if it meant moving to Pasadena, CA.
Asking around, I knew there had to be more stories about the women that worked there. What I wasn’t expecting was that there would be so many! You see, depending on the statistics and who you ask, there is at least 18% of women in engineering. Companies like GE want to #BalanceTheEquation and hire over 20,000 women into leadership positions. The cool part is JPL has been hiring women since the age of the human computers, and one of these women, Sue Finley, has actually been there so long she is one of NASA’s longest tenured employees. 50+ until her retirement in 2016.
The book itself features the story of a few of the women following them from the moment they got hired through multiple pregnancies, and rehirings. Women didn’t have the luxury of maternity leave so their opportunity to serve ended the moment they started to show. Barbara Paulson, Helen Ling, Macie, Margie, Sue, Silvia and Ginny stand out off the top of my head, with many more serving their country and science valiantly. Check out their stories and the cool satellite images inside the book. Nathalia Holt did a wonderful job relaying the story of these marvelous women. The Rocket Girls will always reign supreme; we honor their memory reaching for the stars, building atop their legacy.
To infinity and beyond!