• In 1940, physicist Pearl Young became NACA's first female professional, paving the way for women to work in laboratories, and making her one of the first prominent women in the agency. She also pioneered a process for aeronautical engineers to communicate their ideas and for technical information to disseminate to industry, academia, and other government labs.
  • In 1941, Jean Clark became the first female aircraft model builder and worked at NASA Langley.
  • In 1942, Virginia Tucker headed the Computing Section (the "computers" were women who helped flight engineers with math calculations). In the early days of NASA research, flight parameters such as airspeed and pressure were recorded on instruments. Women read and interpreted the raw flight data and calculated flight characteristics such as Mach number, velocity, dynamic pressure, and the aircraft's center of gravity.
  • Grace Murray Hopper, born in 1906 and educated in mathematics at Vassar and Yale, is the early pioneer of computer science. To aid in WWII, she joined the Navy as a computer. The innovated, "Amazing Grace," created computer programs that used mathematical equations that computer s could interpret. She pioneered COBOL and revolutionized computer technology. She was the first woman to attain the rank of Rear Admiral and, in 1991, she won the National Medal of Technology. http://www.greatwomen.org/lcnghop.htm

  • In 1942, Rosa D. Smith was chief of personnel, Virginia M. Kerlin was chief of the Purchase Office, and Ruth Scott was chief of finance--all at NACA Headquarters.
  • In 1943, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were organized to train women pilots to fly ferry missions during WWII. Some 1,074 women flew 60 million miles ferrying aircraft for the military. The program was cancelled in 1944.
  • By 1945—the last year of WWII—nearly 1,000 women were working at NACA in technical jobs that included operating spray guns, welding iron, and setting rivets.
  • In 1946, Roxanah Yancey and Isabell Martin, who had math degrees, were working in the Flight Test Unit at NACA's Muroc site (now Edwards Air Force Base). In the terminology of the period, computers were employees—typically women—who transcribed data from roles of celluloid film and strips of oscillography paper and then, using a slide rule and electric calculators, reduced data to standard engineering terms. Calculators were known as "Galloping Gerties" because of their movement when in use.
  • In 1947, Peggy L. Yohner was the first female chief of Computer Services and the first female senior executive at NACA's Glenn Research Center.
  • In 1947, Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori, became the first American woman and the third worldwide to receive a Nobel Prize in the sciences. She pioneered biochemistry and genetics.

  • In 1948, the Women's Armed Services Act was passed.
  • As a graduate student in 1948, Phyllis S. Freier, Ph.D. made a major discovery finding nuclei heavier than helium in cosmic radiation. Since these elements are not produced during the Big Bang, their presence in the cosmic radiation shows that these very energetic particles had to have been accelerated later. Freier continued to study the charge, mass, and energy spectra of the heavy nuclei for the next 30 years.
  • In 1949, Evelyn Boyd Granville earned her doctorate in mathematics from Yale and was one of the first African-American women to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. During her career, she developed computer programs that were used for trajectory analysis in the Mercury project (the first U.S. manned mission in space) and in the Apollo project (that sent U.S. astronauts to the moon).
  • In 1950, four women engineers worked at NACA's Muroc unit. Two of the four, Joan Childs Dahlen and Harriet DeVries Smith, were authors of NACA reports, a task traditionally accomplished by male engineers. Reports written during this period were about experiments on the X-1, X-3, X-5, D-558, and B-52 airplanes.
  • In 1950, Vera Rubin presented a paper at the American Astronomical Society's annual meeting, and her research was rejected. She is a recognized expert on the movement of stars in galaxies, and she revolutionized the idea that 90 percent of the matter in galaxies was invisible to scientific instruments of the time. She championed the theory of dark matter. http://cannon.sfsu.edu/~gmarcy/cswa/history/Vera.jpeg
  • In 1952, the Society of Women Engineers was founded.
  • Jacqueline Cochran began her illustrious flying career as a means to promote her cosmetic business. While continuing to run a company, she became one of the most legendary aviatrixes. In 1953, she was the first woman to break the sound barrier, with Chuck Yager acting as her chase pilot. She led the Women's Airforce Service Pilots during WWII, and, in 1941, was the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic. She was the first woman to fly in the Bendix Trophy Transcontinental Race in 1934, and won it in 1938. She was the first woman to take off and land on an aircraft carrier. In 1964, she established a new world record for speed, flying an F-104 at 1,429.2 mph. At the end of every race, she would comb her hair and apply makeup while sitting in her airplane at the end of the runway.
  • In 1953, Joan Childs became the first woman to write a NASA technical report. The subject was the Bell X-5 airplane.
  • In 1955, Annie Easley, an African-American, began work at NACA's Lewis Research Center and earned a degree in mathematics while working. She published numerous papers and developed computer programs for a variety of energy projects.

  • In 1955, Jean Phellan founded the Whirley-Girls, Inc., an international organization of helicopter pilots. One goal of the organization was to use helicopters as air ambulances.
  • Rebecca H. Sparling was the Society of Women Engineer's 1957 awardee for expanding engineering knowledge in the use of materials for aerospace structures.

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