From the creation of the Manned Spacecraft Center to the launching of the International Space Station and beyond, Making Space for Women explores how careers for women at Johnson Space Center have changed over the past fifty years as the workforce became more diverse and fields once closed to women—the astronaut corps and flight control—began to open. Jennifer M. Ross-Nazzal has selected twenty-one interviews conducted for the NASA Oral History Projects, including those with astronauts, mathematicians, engineers, secretaries, scientists, trainers, managers, and more. The women featured not only discuss leadership, teamwork, and the experiences of being “the first,” but reveal how the role of the working woman in a predominantly white, male, technical agency has evolved.
The narratives highlight the societal and cultural changes these women witnessed and the lessons they learned as they pursued different career paths. Among those included are Joan E. Higginbotham, mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery; Natalie V. Saiz, first female director of the Human Resource Office; Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space; Estella Hernández Gillette, the deputy director of the center’s External Relations Office; and Carolyn Huntoon, the first woman director of the Johnson Space Center.
Making Space for Women offers a unique view of the history of human spaceflight while also providing a broader understanding of changes in American culture, society, industry, and life for women in the space program. The women featured in this book demonstrate that there are no boundaries or limits to a career at NASA for those who choose to seize the opportunity.
About the Author
JENNIFER M. ROSS-NAZZAL is the historian for the NASA Johnson Space Center. She is a two-time recipient of the Society for History in the Federal Government’s Charles Thomson Prize. She is the author of Winning the West for Women: The Life of Suffragist Emma Smith DeVoe. She lives in Houston.