Friday, March 23, 2018

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt

Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the almost forgotten story of the women who launched American into space. These women, known as “human computers,” broke boundaries of both gender and science. The story also reveals the beginnings of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The narative touches upon each of these remarkable women’s stories to illustrate the difficulties they faced not only in proving themselves capable at work, but also in their personal lives.

Holt provides not only an interesting look at the start of JPL (don’t miss the story of the real “Suicide Squad”) but also offers a glimpse into the lives of some of JPL’s human computers. It is gratifiying to read about these women who had successful careers regardless of the hurdles they ahd to overcome when women were very much still expected to be at home with the children. Not only were these women trailblazers in the workforce, but they also contributed to the success of America in the Space Race. Rise of the Rocket Girls highlights the nearly hidden role women played in science in the middle to late part of the Twentieth Century but also provides role models for future generations of budding scientists.

You can find Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt on the VBPL Catalog. If you enjoyed Rise of the Rocket Girls, you may want to try Hidden Figures: The American Dream and Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly or Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight Before NASA by Amy Shira Teitel.

Review by Michelle L. Chrzanowski, NASA's Scientific and Technical Information Program

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