I just finished reading Hidden Figures yesterday, and as much as I liked the movie, I think I liked the book even more. It shed a light onto the decades-long careers of Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and the many women, black and white, with whom they worked. Margot Lee Shetterly, the book's author, points out, "There was virtually no aspect of twentieth-century defense technology that had not been touched by the hands and minds of female mathematicians." Just today, I came across a story on Raye Monatgue, who was the first female program manager of ships in the Navy, a programmer and engineer. There's also a wonderful book about the women of the Jet Propulsion Lab, The Rise of the Rocket Girls.
1) And now there is going to be a set of Legos honoring NASA women!
2) March is Women's History Month, and so I'm going to try to put an extra focus on women's historical contributions for the next few weeks. It might seem like I'm really fixated on women involved in the space program, but there are a few reasons I mention them so often. 1) There have been a bunch of books published about women working in government science programs recently, so there's easily accessible material. 2) When there are large groups of women making meaningful contributions, it's harder to deny them, or to pretend that just one women was special or exceptional enough to make a difference. As Shetterly also writes, "even the Firsts weren't the Onlies." 3) Women's contributions are often coopted by male colleagues, minimized, or just plain erased from our history. I think it's our collective job to share and amplify these stories when we find out about them.
3) Speaking of women who have come before, talking with Merin about her philosophy in starting Kit, I thought of some of the other designers who were motivated by a desire to make getting dressed easier for women, particularly Donna Karan and Eileen Fisher. Karan started with "Seven Easy Pieces" in 1985, meant to make getting dressed foolproof, since all seven pieces went together. Eileen Fisher says, "I never set out to be a clothing designer -- I was an uncomfortable person, and so I wanted comfortable clothes. And I hated shopping."
4) Does a clothing uniform make you more productive? Or is getting dressed a chance to exercise your creativity?
5) For some inspiration from a younger demographic, check out "What My Daughter Wore," illustrations of girls expressing their personal style, from little girls to teenagers.
6) And finally, first I interviewed Merin, then, she interviewed me, for Kit's "Voices" series. It was such a treat to spend even more time talking with Merin!