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Hampton History Museum

Posted on: February 21, 2019

Challenging Gender Stereotypes in Engineering Since 1940 - Wednesday, March 20, 12-1 pm

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Join Dr. Laura Micheletti Puaca, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Program in Women's and Gender Studies at Christopher Newport University will provide an overview of efforts to encourage women in engineering since 1940.

Dr. Pauca will focus on early efforts to expand U.S. women’s participation in engineering, beginning in World War II. In the two decades before the women’s movements of the 1960s, a number of women and women’s organizations (such as the Society of Women Engineers) tirelessly campaigned to enhance female representation in the field. Amidst the Second World War and Cold War, these reformers not only worked to gain women’s admittance to previously all-male engineering programs and schools, but also collaborated with government officials, teachers, and guidance counselors to help reshape public perceptions of engineering as a career for women. In doing so, they established scholarships, published vocational guidance materials, spoke at career days, judged science fairs, and created mentoring opportunities for young women.

These early efforts are significant because they paved the ways for later efforts to encourage women in STEM. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and even today, proponents of women’s engineering education and employment continue to rely on many of these strategies. They also face many of the same obstacles with regard to gender stereotyping. By looking at past and present efforts to improve women’s engineering participation as well as representation of women engineers, this lecture will shed light on the gains achieved to date as well as the ongoing struggle to improve women’s acceptance in the field.

Dr. Puaca’s teaching and research interests include modern U.S. history, women’s and gender history, science and technology studies, and the history of social movements. She is the author of Searching for Scientific Womanpower: Technocratic Feminism and the Politics of National Security, 1940-1980 (UNC Press), which won the History of Science Society’s 2017 Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize. She also won the 2017 Disability History Association’s Publication Award for Best Article/Book Chapter for her essay, “The Largest Occupational Group of All the Disabled: Homemakers with Disabilities and Vocational Rehabilitation in Postwar America.” Building on this research, Puaca is currently working on a new book-length project examining disability and domesticity in the post-World War II United States. She is the founding director of the Hampton Roads Oral History Project.

The talk is free an open to the public.

Bring your lunch. The museum will provide free dessert.

The Hampton History Museum is located at 120 Old Hampton Lane in Downtown Hampton. There is free parking in the garage across the street from the museum. For more information call 757-727-1102.


Image Courtesy Society of Women Engineers Photograph Collection, Walter P. Reuther Library

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