Saturday, 1 November 2008

Scientist Pin-Ups: Kitty Joyner

Thanks to Darwin-dispersalist Michael Barton who suggested this pin-up, asking, "do engineers count?" I was pondering my response to the question as I clicked through to the link he sent me and as soon as I saw the oh-so-pinuppable-in-that-1950's-you-know-what-I'm-talkin'-'bout-way image I knew my answer had to be hell, yes.

Kitty Joyner, electrical engineer, at Langley in 1952 (NASA Images).

On top of being aesthetically beautiful, this pin-up is hot for the following reasons:
  1. I have a soft spot for NASA
  2. Kitty Joyner is not a household name and as such provides another much-needed example of a 'normal woman' in science
  3. Even in 2008 a woman engineer is a relatively rare thing (in the US, only 12.4% of electrical engineering bachelor's degrees went to women last year); I can't imagine how rare it must have been in 1952 ...perhaps this is the tail-end of the of the Rosie the Riveter era?


Alice said...

Kitty Joiner was a friend of my parents: W. H Phillips & Viola O. Phillips. My father spent his career and NASA, LRC and my mother worked there in the 1940's. The main thing I remember is my mother saying that Kitty had to sue to be admitted the University of Virginia (all male until the 1970's) to study engineering because VA. didn't have an engineering program for women.

Alice P. Check
Beaverton, OR

Panic Attack said...

Yes, this is a very rare photo indeed. She is quite beautiful and to be an electrical engineer in NASA, is quite an achievement, especially during that decade.