What are LitBits?Nathalia Holt, NPR Chat About the Role of Women in Rocket Science

Nathalia-Holt-Rise-of-the-Rocket-GirlsNathalia Holt spoke with NPR’s Ari Shapiro and one of the original “rocket girls,” Barbara Paulson, about women’s role in shaping the American space project. Nathalia’s book The Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars, is a collective biography of a group of women who “did the math” at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1940s.

“In a time before the digital devices that we’re used to today, it was humans that were doing the calculations,” Nathalia says. “And so you needed these teams of people — many of whom were women, especially during World War II — and they were responsible for the math.”

Nathalia Holt, Rise of the Rocket Girls

The women of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory helped launch the first American satellites, lunar missions and planetary explorations. Those “human computers,” as they were called, are seen here in 1953. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Books In Common recently worked with the Sierra Madre, CA One Book One City program to bring Nathalia in for a presentation and book signing. Nathalia is particularly relevant for colleges and communities working to facilitate a discourse around gender equality and empowerment. “My hope is that these women serve as role models,” Nathalia says, “not just for my daughter of course, but for all of the women that are interested in science.”

Nathalia Holt, Ph.D. is the bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars and Cured: The People who Defeated HIV.  She has trained at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard University, the University of Southern California, and Tulane University.

To schedule an event with Nathalia, contact Books In Common directly at (541) 318-6288.

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