tv Women and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory CSPAN April 27, 2019 3:10pm-4:01pm EDT
the lap later became part of nasa, and many women did crucial work in the space program for decades. of "riseholt is author of the rocket girls: the women who propelled us, from missiles to the moon to mars." this 15-minute talk is part of the lecture series hosted by the university of mary washington. mr. crawley: i want to introduce tonight speaker nathalia holt. having started at humboldt state university and having received a phd from the university of southern california as well as studied at tulane university,ms. holt has also conducted research at caltech library and at the history of women in america at harvard. in addition, she has been a the reagan institute, massachusetts general hospital, and m.i.t. her first book is called "cured: the people who defeated hiv." she has also written widely and
has been published by the "new york times," "los angeles "late," "popular science," and "time" magazine. in 2016, she published the work that is the basic of her talk tonight, entitled "rise of the rocket girls: the women who propelled us, from missiles to the moon to mars." that work was a bestseller and was widely praised by critics, including one who described it as "immersive, evocative, and superbly written. holt's narrative should be required reading." another called it a marvelous book, adding "when neil armstrong made his giant leap for mankind, there was womankind in the control room." it is a pleasure indeed to welcome to the university of mary washington nathalia holt. [applause]
nathalia: thank you so much. i really appreciate you having me here tonight, and i am excited to talk to you about "rocket girls." this is a group of pioneers whose careers shaped nasa and really made it what it is today. before i get into their history, i want to share with you a small slice of my own history, and that is because i came to this book in a very unusual way. i started in 2010. my husband and i had just moved from california to boston, and i was pregnant. we were expecting our first baby. but we could not agree on the a name. we argued over names. we made long lists of baby names
, and nothing seemed right. and then my husband, out of the blue, suggested the name eleanor francis. when i first heard the name, i thought, i am not sure. this sounds a little bit old-fashioned. so i did what parents do these days, and i googled the name. the first person to come up was a woman named eleanor francis helene. -- helin. my browser was full of this picture of her as she accepted award at nasa. i was stunned. i had no idea that women worked at nasa at the time, much less as scientists. i knew i had to learn more. what i found was that she was not alone. she was one of a large group of women who worked at the jet propulsion laboratory, or jpl, in pasadena, california.
jpl has a really fascinating history in and of itself. it was founded by a group that were called the suicide squad. they received this name because of the very dangerous experiments they performed on the caltech campus, where some of them were students and others some of them were just young people who like to fire off rockets and explode things. so they did a lot of that on campus. they set off an explosion in the engineering building, which roasted a brand-new and very expensive wind tunnel. they also blasted off the side of the building, raining brick down on students below. it was at this point that the administrators at caltech said, ok this is enough. , you have to leave. this is where they went to this isolated canyon outside pasadena, where they could set off their rockets in peace. it is important to note at this time in history, the late 1930's, rocket science is
considered a fringe science. no serious scientist or engineer would ever aspire to being a be a rocket scientist. and, in fact, their professors would tell them what they were trying to do was impossible. you would never be able to send a rocket into space. there was a woman who was part of this suicide squad named barby canright. she was a computer. that meant a person who computes. they performed the calculations for the experiments. this is one of the earliest known computers, he was an 18th-century french mathematician and astronomer. he was working on calculating
the return of haley's comet. he had been brought onto the project to work as a computer, and he was not doing this alone. he was working with a woman named nicole. so the two of them spent long hours calculating the gravitational pull of the planets to determine an exact date for the return of the comet. in 1756, they presented their result to the scientific community. however, only claut's name was on the paper. the female computer was left off. this would really be the first in a long line of female computers not being acknowledged for their work. this is a group of computers who worked in the 1800's at the harvard observatory. they were responsible for analyzing a vast amount of data coming into the observatory. they made a star classification system and created maps of the sky.
they were all hired by a man named charles edward pickering, and he said the reason that he hired only women as computers was because he said the female sex were more detail oriented, better suited to this type of work. but the real reason may be that they could be paid a lot less. they worked six days a week and made about $.25 to $.50 an hour. now, the number of computers in the united states got a boost in 1938 as part of the works progress administration, when the u.s. government hired 450 computers. 76 of them were women. their supervisor was actually a woman, too. her name was gertrude blanche, and she had a phd in mathematics. they worked on something special. they were creating the math tables project, which is a 28 -volume set of logarithms and
trigonometry that would one day form the first steps into space. the first person to work with these books at the jpl was canright. this is her and her husband. they were the first two computers to be working at the lab. they were working on the jet-assisted takeoff. they and the suicide squad were strapping on the homemade rockets onto the side of aircraft, and their plan was they could adopt the technology to one day power bombers over oceans. after many failures and, yes, some explosions, they had some success. in 1939, they received a grant from the u.s. government and officially formed the lab. with the new money, richard was
canright was promoted to the position of engineer. however, barby, with the same experience and education, was not. this is how it was. men were engineers. women were computers. now the lab needed to hire a few more computers, so they hired two women and one man. one of these women would be very important to the future of the laboratory. her name was macy roberts. in 1940, she was named head of the computing section. this was a big deal at the time. there were no other female heads. so she took responsibility seriously, especially as the lab was now expanding, and they were hiring more computers. so she interviewed both men and women for the job of computers. however, she decided that she would only hire women. the reason is because she felt that if she hired a man, they would not listen to her simply because she was a woman.
so macie hired a lot of women. they came from all over the country. all types of backgrounds and experience levels. the woman in the center was jeanette, the first african american hired in the technical division in the lab. she had a bachelors in chemical engineering from ucla. today, she would be hired as an engineer. back then, she was hired as a computer. these women worked with paper and pencil and bulky machines called freedom calculators that, despite their size, could do surprisingly little. early models did addition and subtraction. later models could do square roots. with these meager tools, the women were calculating the early potential of rocket propellers the trajectories of early missiles.
they were working on this one, the corporal, a big 39-foot behemoth, as well as this one, the sergeant, a surface to surface missile. but the real love was space exploration. in the 1950's, when the women start adapting the design for the sergeant missile into a rocket called jupiter. they took their calculations and created a scaled-down version called the baby sergeant. they took 12 of the baby sergeants, and they place them in a big spinning tub and the . and the women who worked on this told me that they decided to make it spinning, so it would balance the thrust of all the different rockets. they placed two of the spinning tops on top of a large rocket, and at the peak was a single baby sergeant whose aim was to launch the world's first satellite. in 1956, they launched jupiter c.
the women in the control room that night told me how exciting it was. because that rocket broke all records for the time. it broke speed records, altitude records, it rose 3335 miles into the air. but there was no satellite at the peak. it was way down with sandbags. the reason is because the eisenhower administration had not given them the go-ahead to launch a satellite. so you can imagine how frustrated they were, less than one month later, when the soviet union launched sputnik. on october 4, 1957. and in fact, the women i talked to are still angry about this.
it is very frustrating, because they know, that given the opportunity, they could have launched before them. it is not until a second sputnik is launched that eisenhower finally gives the group the go-ahead. so december 31, 1958, the group that jpl assembles to launch explorer one. many women were part of the launch. none more important than a woman named barbara polson. she is the one responsible for calculating the trajectory of the satellite as it leaves earth. to do this, she is sitting at a light table with paper and pencil. remember, she is doing this by hand. standing over her shoulder are richard feynman the famous , physicist, and the president of caltech. everyone in the room is waiting on her calculations to find out if this mission will be a success. when she calculates that yes, explorer 1 has made it and america has its first satellite, the room erupts in celebration. it is an incredible moment.
it is also the birth of nasa. 1, everything changes. the women leave military design behind and are focused on space. things are also changing for barbara. macie roberts is now retiring, and barbara, who has worked there for a decade, has been promoted to supervisor of the computing section. however she is also 30 years old ,, she is about to get married and about to start a family. in 1960, only 25% of mothers worked outside the home. but barbara decides that she loves her job, she feels her work is too important, and she definitely wants to stay. so you can imagine how shocked she is when, at eight months pregnant, the lab's administrators learn she is expecting and immediately fire her. they tell her she is an
insurance liability, and it does not matter that she is supervisor and that she has done so much for the lab, she has to pack up and leave that day. barbara is just devastated. she goes home to her husband, harry, and cries, i thought i was worth more than that. fortunately, barbara is able to come back and have a 45-year career at nasa, and she is able to do so thanks to helen lange, who you can see standing up in the second row. she was born in china. she ended up living through many terrors during world war ii. she came to the united states for college, and in 1953, she was hired by macy roberts to work at jpl. and right away, everyone realizes helen is special. she is an incredibly gifted mathematician and becomes the go to person that, when they have a really difficult problem, all of the engineers want her to be working with them.
and so it is natural for her to take over the role of supervisor after barbara has been fired. but, helen is like barbara. she is 30 years old. she had just gotten married and about to start a family. so she decides to learn from barbara's example, and she hides her pregnancy for as long as she can. and then, when it is time to have the baby, because there is no maternity leave at this time, she combines all of her sick and vacation time, so she can take some months off. and by doing this, she is able to retain her supervisor position. as she comes back to work, she decides it is not enough just for her to be there is a working mom. she wants to bring back other mothers. so she ends up calling barbara and many, many others and asked if they want to come back. by doing this, helen creates a culture of working motherhood in the lab that simply did not exist before her.
now, this is all happening at a very interesting time in the history of technology. because ibm computers are just only just now, in the early 1960's, really coming into use at nasa. nasa was a little later than some industries in adopting other the early computers. i found in my research is at most nasa centers, once the electronic computers came in, the people who worked as human computers were largely fired. i have a few examples of this. just two here. on the top is a group of human computers at langley, so not too far from here. you have probably heard the story of the african-american computers who worked at langley in the brilliantly told book, "hidden figures," which is also a movie.
in the bottom is a group from the armstrong flight research center. in both cases, once ibm computers entered in the 1960's, almost all of the women were fired. this happened across the country. but it did not happen at the jet propulsion laboratory. instead, the women were trained as the first computer programmers. they were the ones who worked on ibm's like this. the ibm 1620 the women affectionately named cora. this group of women at jpl wrote the very first program that sent american spacecraft to the moon and planets. and they do it on cards like this. in my research, i was really curious as to why this is, why jpl was so different from other many of these other nasa centers. what i found was that at most nasa centers, they were formed for military basis, so the
culture was very different than at jpl, which was formed by the suicide squad. because of its association with caltech, it only had a quirky academic feel. and it still does today. it still feels very different. despite working in such a progressive place, the women of course were still subject to gender norms of the day, and one of those that i found most surprising were the beauty contests. the lab held miss guided missile, later renamed the queen of outer space. women from all over the lab would compete in these contests. my favorite beauty contest story 1964, as part of the ranger series of missions. missionsa series of whose goal was to send the first camera to the moon in order to the first close-up images informlunar surface and possible landing sites for
apollo. 1964, this was proving impossible. there had already been five failed missions. was a real feeling that if we can't even send a are weto the moon, how ever gonna get astronauts there? four ranger sets, the director of the laboratory, flew d.c.o he sat with president johnson on an open phone line to mission at the lab in pasadena, as they heard a live of ranger six as it approached the lunar surface. you can imagine what this moment is like. the room is quiet. it's tense. everyone is waiting. and then suddenly they hear a voice. on avon and walk in beauty! everyone kind of looks around at each other. where is this voice coming from? not coming from the moon. then they realize, in pasadena, that they switched feeds with
queen of outer space contest. [laughter] >> oh! incredibly embarrassing moment. but even worse is when they ranger six has also failed. and what i found interesting in was that our first successes in the space race were not to the moon at all but to the planets. such as mariner 2, which 1962, and was the world's first interplanetary spacecraft. it flew by venus, giving us our first peek into the temperature heat and wind on that planet. and at the same time, in 1964, struggling to get a 238,000 miles to the moon, we were successfully able 4, 162 millioner miles to mars with a camera. 4, this mission was very exciting at the time.
had was the first time we ever sent a camera to another planet. and there was a real feeling, even among scientists at this time, that this would give us peek into life on mars. now, it took eight and a half hours for the data from those photographs to be beamed back to earth. and then even after they were would take many more hours for the electronic computers to resolve those create real photographs. but for the group at j.p.l., they could not wait. see were too excited to what was going to be on these photographs. and so as soon as the data back from mariner 4, they started printing out the data in strips. pasted these strips up onto a wall at the lab. created this cute color by number system for their data, where they assigned each of data its own color. and then the group in the lab
in the blanks and coloring in each number. the mediais point, relations people at the lab were getting pretty nervous, because want all of the press to see this image. so oftenourse, as happens, the media did see it, and it was this image, hand-painted in pastels by the group at j.p.l., that was the first image of mars first shown on tv, that first peek into the everyone onor earth. and you could make the argument that it's somewhat more beautiful than the real photograph of mariner 4, colorful atre least. now, of course despite these to venus and mars, we did eventually get to the moon. it to theid make lunar surface and took the pictures of the sea of tranquility, which of course paved the way for apollo 11 in
1969. really, the women's free points allall -- fingerprints are over that mission, because of the rocket and propellant that helped develop. even those first words, one step, was made possible because of the deep space network that the women labored build. remarkablelse happened in 1969. that is that the women finally became engineers. a big deal. not only did they get a pay raise but they felt they were finally getting the recognition they deserved. this is helen lane, still supervisor of the group at this time. she decides that as exciting as engineers,hem to be she wants to bring in more female engineers into her group. however, this is not so easy to do. time,at's because at this most engineering schools are still closed to women.
example, didn't open its doors to women until 1970. only admitted three female students. so helen devises a plan to work around this. she begins seeking out women who have bachelor degrees in math science.ter she hires them in the lab. trains them. to a localnds them night school for engineering. by doing this, she is able to the lab with female engineers who otherwise would gotten in the door. and it's a good thing she does, because these female engineers are needed for a very exciting mission that the lab is about to embark on, called the grand tour. and this mission took advantage in 175-year alignment sende planets, in order to a spacecraft all the way to the outer planets. was dreamingj.p.l. of looking at planets that no
before.ft had gone to uranus, saturn, neptune, even pluto. however, in 1970, nasa cuts.enced massive budget so the grand tour was cancelled. now, the group at j.p.l. just this was unacceptable. they had to take advantage of this moment. group ofsmall engineers, including sylvia ander, who had been hired trained by helen, came in one weekend with the goal of saving the grand tour. and what they did was they came up with a trajectory that used gravity assist. so they used the gravitational to act likeplanets a swing shot, sending a spacecraft farther and farther space. and by doing so, they were able down oncosts by cutting the size of the spacecraft and how much fuel they needed to use. and it was this trajectory that
1977oyagers followed in when they were launched. they went all the way to the planets. unfortunately, not pluto. that was later on. but they not only changed textbooks for the time but they gave us all of these beautiful images. and the voyagers are still going. voyager one in 2013 is the first left ourbject to have solar system. of course, it wasn't just made by men. women's careers have also kept going. 1980's, they began working on venus.n, a return to they then worked on a return to jupiter and a study of jupiter's moons, including finding saltwater. same group's, this of women began sending rovers to mars. late 1990's, after careers of about 40 to 50 years
wasasa, most of this group ready to retire. 2013, i held a reunion thehis group of women at jet propulsion laboratory. and it was such a remarkable experience to get to be in the lab with them and hear their memories firsthand. surprised by how much their histories had been forgotten by nasa. this is theple of story of sue finley. in 1958inley was hired by macy roberts before nasa was officially formed. and she still works there today. longest-serving female employee. made a, in 2004, nasa new administer, that if you that if you don't hold an advanced degree, you can't have the title of engineer. that sue worked so hard to get in 1969 was taken
away from her and she was demoted. now, despite this, even though she, of course, went to a school at the time, when women weren't generally allowed into most schools, she does love her job. she loves working at j.p.l. and plans to't have any retire currently. and so i wanted to write this histories ofthe these women, because they very much deserve it, but also the next to inspire generation of scientists and engineers. in particular a lack of women in computer science. 1984, 37% of bachelor degrees in computer science were women. to and today, that number is at about 16%. we also see that about half of all women in science, engineering and math end up leaving mid-career. we seeaddition to that, ineal stagnating interest
s.t.e.m. among high school graduate women. are male hightop, school graduates. you can see that over the past two decades, those levels have been steadily climbing and are now at about 45%, whereas in blue, on the bottom, for female high school graduates, those changedreally have not much in the past two decades and are right now at about 15%. fortunately, there are a lot of groups looking to change this. you have wonderful organizations, such as girls who code, that are going in and to get young women interested in computers and science early on. someou also have universities that have made some significant changes. data from harvey college in california. 2005, they found that about 15% of their bachelor degrees in science were awarded to women. so they decided to make a few
changes. changed their introductory computer science evenes so that anyone, someone with no background in the major at all, could get started. made research opportunities available sooner to their students. and they also began sending female computer science students to the grace hopper in computing. by making those changes, what we see today is that about half of computerduates in science are now women. so we know there are changes ant we can make on institutional level that can make a big difference. bright spots other as well. the firstt marked year that nasa's astronaut class was half women. at the jet propulsion laboratory, there are more women employed at every level than at any other nasa center. that is really thanks to helen and barbara and sue and this incredible group of pioneers in
spaceflight that paved the way. is my daughter. [laughter] eleanor did name her frances. and she is named in part for a never had sadly, i the chance to meet. eleanor frances passed away a year before i started my research. but i hope that her story and that of these other women will day inspire my daughter too. so thank you so much for listening. it.ally appreciate thank you for having me here. [applause] >> we're going to take some questions now. meghan is filling in for kelly tonight. we'll take as many questions as can. if you would raise your hand and
your if you will, and ask question succinctly, we'll take as many as we can. is my man? [laughter] >> bill, starts us off. ok. right there. go ahead. >> you focused on j.p.l. there.e never been by the way, bill, u.v.a. was the the state university in country to allow women in graduate programs. >> you would have to remind me of that. you, scott. [laughter] >> yes. but i have been to huntsville center.marshall did the same gender specific rules apply there? that was wernher von braun, that. and all >> yes. so in huntsville, there was also a large group of female computers. and they too had shorter careers, because they ended up their jobs after
i.b.m.'s came into the lab. incredible how many nasa centers there are all across the country. and what role they played in all of these missions. >> questions, questions? i can't believe it. you stunned them, nat. stunned them. >> ha ha! >> ok. here we go. would you pass this over, please? the infoelates to graphic that you showed that indicated that about half of the left their s.t.e.m. jobs. where did they go? >> well, many women that are leaving academia in the sciences will often find roles that are sort of outside what we normally think of in terms of science careers. intony of them will go teaching and other roles like that. but, you know, i'm not sure that have a great idea of where they're all going and how
keep woman in these fields. i don't feel like that has been all.addressed at >> do you think it was lack of advancement that is driving them out? why are they leaving? >> it's hard for me to answer that. think there's many reasons why someone would leave mid-career. of that maybe that there are family considerations that happen. be difficult being in academia, as i'm sure many of you know, and especially it's not always easy to balance roles that areof these women leaving mid-career, it's a time when they do have young children. not really well-versed enough in the research and i'm sure there are many people that really looking into this, at least i hope so, that are going into this and trying to look at of why people leave and ways we can retain them. >> thank you.
>> whoops. question, i'mat wondering, are there any studies that have been done or are being to why young women are not going into the s.t.e.m. programs? >> well, i think what's really data from is that harvey mudd. they're not the only college to have done this. example.m as an but there's other colleges that have taken a similar approach. seei think that what you is, even though you have that stagnating interest among high areol graduates, there things we can do at the college level to bring women back into majors, that it's not simply because they're not interested in computers or iny're not interested s.t.e.m. fields. we know that there are these concrete actions that can bring women back into majors that they used to be more plentiful.
>> no. know if you ever found this. teach music here. sandra bullock's mother. her grandfather was a german rocket scientist. i have the book, "operation playbook." i don't know if the russians got them or they came over here with von braun. ever heard anything? but her mother used to teach, i've been told, music here at washington. she was a german opera singer. >> i'm afraid i don't know any history. it sounds very interesting. >> ok. back there. >> yes. personally think we should start getting people, girls, into s.t.e.m.
fields pretty much as soon as possible, like the younger, the better. so how young would you suggest we start? doing that, you know? >> it's a good question. and i certainly am with you in spirit. i'm not an educator, so i don't what the best age is. but i certainly do know, from a lot oflks at elementary schools and junior there isols that something just compelling about science. it doesn't have to be just for girls. people in general find the topics interesting, especially if you have a great teacher. can make all the difference in the world for getting you excited about a field. we're not even if trying to necessarily drive boys into science careers, there's value in getting young people excited science at an early age.
>> back there. >> i just want to say, i have a got her that undergraduate degree from u.v.a. in aerospace engineering. and she went on to get her masters degree in aerospace engineering from u.v.a. and she now works at boeing with satellite. and i was surprised at the number of women that actually with her there. so i know that there are a lot in that field. of course, we can get more women field. but it was a surprising amount of people that are women that work at boeing with my daughter. and one of the reasons why she became interested in aerospace engineering at an early age was and "star wars." and her father was an engineer and we spent a lot of dinners watching star trek and talking
about that. like thathink shows young people'ss interest in space, is really a catalyst that helps promote that. but there are a lot of women out there that we don't maybe know controlling our satellites. >> ha ha! that's a good point. you must be very proud of your daughter. i have toured spacex and blue origin, some of these private spaceflight companies, and i've astounded by how many women i see. in some ways, their percentages actually higher than what you have at nasa amongst scientists and engineers today. of these companies are also kind of going on the google offering a lot to their employees, so i know that when i toured blue origin, for example, they offered in-house day care and they have a lot of great benefits for their employees. so i think that's, you know, a
wonderful way to attract, of course, both men and women, but hopefully make it easier for a lot of young people to stay in the field. >> here's a question. in the front. >> you've done a very fine job researching a complex area of technology. academicring what your experience has been in science. have a ph.d. in molecular biology. and i have to say, i don't know in science who hasn't had some type of negative experience. it really is just sort of par for the course. and that probably could be said for most anyone who has endured graduate school, of course. but i've been fortunate enough work with wonderful advisors faculty in my career. so i feel very fortunate that i've had those experiences. and especially for my graduate advisori had a female who really felt passionate about
supporting her students. and i think, you know, that means so much, when you have people, especially other women who are willing to invest in their students. that makes a big difference. >> i wanted to thank you very the lecture. i thought it was wonderful. and i loved your book. my son gave it to me as a present. and i read it and i really enjoyed it. engineer.rospace my husband and i are both aerospace engineers. we raised our three children, we them to space shuttle launches, to science museums. and all three of them turned out be liberal arts majors. [laughter] >> ha ha! liberal artsre majors with a really good background in science and math. i reallys -- appreciate you bringing that to my attention. i started studying engineering in 1974.
and that was only two years college, polytechnic institute of new york allowed engineering. it was a trail blazers -- the trail blazers that allowed many eto do that. worked for four years as an engineer in the army, then i stayed at home to raise my children. now i teach math and science in middle school. but, you know, as much as we can their ownody has choices. but it's stories like this that can inspire people and show them what can happen. so thank you very much. >> oh, thank you. [applause] >> question back here. >> so i actually had one question and a comment that goes with it. on the graph that you displayed interest in the s.t.e.m. fields, i saw a stark gendersinterest in both displayed, around 2004. do you know if there was a reason for that? lost interest? >> i'm not sure. i don't know what the reason be.t it's interesting, though.
i'm curious too what that could be. >> i'm also very familiar with the discrimination against women engineering specifically. both of my parents went to tufts graduated with degrees in engineering. my mother is a mechanical engineerng and my -- and my father is a chemical engineer. my mother worked for lockheed when it was lockheed martin. and at one point, probably about was applying she for jobs in the mechanical engineering field. told that there were two things wrong with her. her age and her sex. that was outright discrimination in the hiring a woman who, at the time, had -- i believe she had a a masters ind mechanical engineering. she was still told that they her becauseto hire she was a woman. she's still working for lockheed martin to this day. no intention of leaving.
so... >> very impressive. is kind of interesting the experience of this group of women, because it is different other nasa center. they were really colleagues with the men they worked with. and that, of course, is not to say that there weren't, you know, some bad things that are in everythere workplace. but what i found in my research is that for the most part, the men at j.p.l. did support this group of women. their earlyin publications. so even in the 1950's and 1960's, they were actually including the female computers on their publications. and that was very rare. it really wasn't done at that time. but it ended up making a big their careers later on. >> question back here. the was wondering when women were called engineers, did their jobs actually change, or did their titles just change? >> their titles and salary changed. their jobs really did not change.
>> do you have another question, meghan? >> hi. um... so i actually majored in computer science. have two degrees in computer science. and i actually -- building on what you were saying, in 2004, it was difficult to get jobs around that time. right after 9/11. they weren't hiring people like that. why, but -- and i think there may have been a softening of the economy. so that could be why. why she was -- why. yeah. i'm not good at this. ha ha! [laughter] >> thank you. >> all right. questions? yes. here's one. >> so this glass ceiling that
you've kind of spoke of, gender is this ation, national problem or an international problem? the soviet union during problem, have the same did von braun have this problem, or the women during that period problem, or is this an american thing? >> this is such a great question. i wish i had the answer for you. [laughter] >> i'm particularly curious myself what the rule of women -- what the role of women were at the soviet union during this time, because certainly they were far in advance of us in terms of getting women into space, of course, so it seems as women may have had somewhat of a larger role in their space program. but i don't know the answer. i am really curious. it's a good question. >> go ahead. one. >> i wanted to ask what you thought about public interest in space, because i
remember sputnik going over as a girl. our whole neighborhood was out there. hear things about the international space station, thisnk it's amazing that international crew is floating around up there. sometimes printing what they a 3d printer. ha! there's very little public awareness, to me it doesn't seem, or excitement about it. wondered if you had anything to say about that. >> i think that's true. you know, i often find when i'm giving talks around the country, that sometimes people will say isn't reallynasa doing anything interesting right now. and it's very frustrating, because, of course, there are really exciting missions that are happening, especially in the outer planets. ofi think it is a source frustration. i'm certain it must be for those working at nasa right now. fortunately, there are some projects, such as mars rovers, i think will always garner perhaps a little more attention
than they should, because they so exciting. but i think in general, you know, it's easy for our new by -- news swept up cycle to be swept up by so many stories that perhaps those stories of space exploration could linger around a little longer. because it is amazing how we're spacecraft,ch these even though there may not be anybody riding in them, that are off and take these beautiful pictures and send them back to earth. >> before we say a final thank you to nathalia, let me call your attention to what's coming thursday. there we go. rr tolken. of you will beny interested in, i'm sure. i hope you will come back on thursday for our next presentation of great lives lecture series. before she goes back to signing books, let's give a final thank to nathalia holt. [applause]
>> thank you so much! >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. ext, on history bookshelf, lynne cheney talks about her book "james madison: a life reconsidered," in which she discusses the life and america's fourth president. she is joined by her husband, former vice president dick nixon, at the presidential library in yorba linda, california. [applause]