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Integrating Women into the Astronaut Corps

Politics and Logistics at NASA, 1972–2004

Amy E. Foster

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Why, Amy E. Foster asks, did it take two decades after the Soviet Union launched its first female cosmonaut for the United States to send its first female astronaut into space? In answering this question, Foster recounts the complicated history of integrating women into NASA’s astronaut corps.

NASA selected its first six female astronauts in 1978. Foster examines the political, technological, and cultural challenges that the agency had to overcome to usher in this new era in spaceflight. She shows how NASA had long developed progressive hiring policies but was limited in executing them by a...

Why, Amy E. Foster asks, did it take two decades after the Soviet Union launched its first female cosmonaut for the United States to send its first female astronaut into space? In answering this question, Foster recounts the complicated history of integrating women into NASA’s astronaut corps.

NASA selected its first six female astronauts in 1978. Foster examines the political, technological, and cultural challenges that the agency had to overcome to usher in this new era in spaceflight. She shows how NASA had long developed progressive hiring policies but was limited in executing them by a national agenda to beat the Soviets to the moon, budget constraints, and cultural ideas about women’s roles in America.

Lively writing and compelling stories, including personal interviews with America’s first women astronauts, propel Foster’s account. Through extensive archival research, Foster also examines NASA’s directives about sexual discrimination, the technological issues in integrating women into the corps, and the popular media’s discussion of women in space. Foster puts together a truly original study of the experiences not only of early women astronauts but also of the managers and engineers who helped launch them into space.

In documenting these events, Foster offers a broader understanding of the difficulties in sexually integrating any workplace, even when the organization approaches the situation with as positive an outlook and as strong a motivation as did NASA.

Reviews

Reviews

A valuable monograph on an important topic... It will provide a foundation for much more scholarship to come on the astronaut corps and NASA after Apollo.

A must-read for historians interested in the gendering of technology, as well as gender and labor historians researching women in the professions during the cold war and beyond.

This book is the first one to examine seriously how women finally joined the NASA astronaut corps. Rich in documentary sources and strengthened by oral histories, this book offers memorable stories illustrating the texture of this significant transition.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
224
ISBN
9781421401959
Illustration Description
3 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Beyond Rosie the Riveter
2. Wilma Deering Meets Captain Janeway
3. ''The Damn Crazy Things!''
4. Making Space
5. ''The Strange Ones''
6. Defying Gravity
7. ''NASA Sutra''
8

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Beyond Rosie the Riveter
2. Wilma Deering Meets Captain Janeway
3. ''The Damn Crazy Things!''
4. Making Space
5. ''The Strange Ones''
6. Defying Gravity
7. ''NASA Sutra''
8. Uninvited Heroics
Epilogue
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio