SAN FRANCISCO — During Women's History Month in March, we celebrate the myriad accomplishments of women past and present. Although women do not dominate engineering history, a bevy of ladies have made amazing innovations and accomplishments in the field.
Chemist Stephanie Louise Kwolek at work. Source: DuPont/New York Times
This year, Non-profit National Women’s History Project will honor women who have shaped America through their public service and government leadership. Among this year's honorees is Nancy Grace Roman, an astronomer and the first women executive at NASA (its chief astronomer) who is known as the “Mother of Hubble” for her contributions to establishing the Hubble Space Telescope. Roman has been an outspoken advocate for women in the sciences.
Nancy Roman. Source: NWHP
Roman worked at the Naval Research Laboratory before being hired by NASA in 1959 to create the organization’s space astronomy program.
She discovered the first clues to the evolution of the Milky Way galaxy, mapped the sky at 67cm, and helped improve the accuracy of measurements to the distance of the moon. While at NASA, where she spent 21 years, Roman led a program that launched more than 20 satellites and 3 orbiting solar observatories.
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Roman also laid the early groundwork for the Hubble Space Telescope program, organizing, recruiting, and lobbying Congress for funding. Her awards and honors include The Federal Woman’s Award in 1962, NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award in 1969, and a NASA fellowship in astrophysics is named in her honor.
Click through the following pages to read about more influential women in engineering history.