Engineering education in the United States was long regarded as masculine territory. For decades, women who studied or worked in engineering were popularly perceived as oddities, outcasts, unfeminine (or inappropriately feminine in a male world). In Girls Coming to Tech!, Amy Bix tells the story of how women gained entrance to the traditionally male field of engineering in American higher education.
As Bix explains, a few women breached the gender-reinforced boundaries of engineering education before World War II. During World War II, government, employers, and colleges actively recruited women to train as engineering aides, channeling them directly into defense work. These wartime training programs set the stage for more engineering schools to open their doors to women. Bix offers three detailed case studies of postwar engineering coeducation. Georgia Tech admitted women in 1952 to avoid a court case, over objections by traditionalists. In 1968, Caltech male students argued that nerds needed a civilizing female presence. At MIT, which had admitted women since the 1870s but treated them as a minor afterthought, feminist-era activists pushed the school to welcome more women and take their talent seriously.
In the 1950s, women made up less than one percent of students in American engineering programs; in 2010 and 2011, women earned 18.4% of bachelor’s degrees, 22.6% of master’s degrees, and 21.8% of doctorates in engineering. Bix’s account shows why these gains were hard won.
A Store Almost in Sight: The Economic Transformation of Missouri from the Louisiana Purchase to the Civil War
A Store Almost in Sight tells the story of commercial development in central Missouri from the early days of American settlement following the Louisiana Purchase to the Civil War. Focusing on those counties near or on the Missouri River, historian Jeff Bremer confirms that the history of the frontier is also the history of the spread of capitalist values. The letters, journals, diaries, and travel accounts of Missouri settlers and visitors reveal how small decisions made by Missouri’s rural white settlers—ranging from how much of a certain crop to plant to how many eggs to take to the local store—contributed to the establishment of a market economy in the state.
Most Missourians welcomed the opportunity to take part in commercial markets. Farmwomen sold eggs or butter to peddlers and in nearby towns, while men took surplus corn or pork to stores for credit. Immigrants searched for the most fertile land closest to waterways, to ensure they would have large harvests and an easy way to ship them to market. Families floated farm goods downriver until steamboats transformed rural life by drastically reducing the cost of transportation and boosting farm production and consumption. Traders also trekked west across the plains to trade at the inland entrepôt of Santa Fe. The waves of migrants headed for Oregon and California in the 1840s and 1850s further encouraged commercial development. However, most white settlers lacked the necessary financial means to be capitalists in a technical sense, seeking instead a “competency,” or comfortable independence.
This fresh reinterpretation of the American frontier will interest anyone who wants to understand the economic and social significance of westward migration in U.S. history. It gives the reader a gritty, grassroots sense of how ordinary people made their livings and built communities in the lands newly opened to American settlement.
When did the kid who strolled the wooded path, trolled the stream, played pick-up ball in the back forty turn into the child confined to the mall and the computer screen? How did Go out and play! go from parental shooing to prescription? When did parents become afraid to send their children outdoors? Surveying the landscape of childhood from the Civil War to our own day, this environmental history of growing up in America asks why and how the nations children have moved indoors, often losing touch with nature in the process.
In the time the book covers, the nation that once lived in the country has migrated to the city, a move whose implications and ramifications for youth Pamela Riney-Kehrberg explores in chapters concerning childrens adaptation to an increasingly urban and sometimes perilous environment. Her focus is largely on the Midwest and Great Plains, where the response of families to profound economic and social changes can be traced through its urban, suburban, and rural permutations—as summer camps, scouting, and nature education take the place of childrens unmediated experience of the natural world. As the story moves into the mid-twentieth century, and technology in the form of radio and television begins to exert its allure, Riney-Kehrberg brings her own experience to bear as she documents the emerging tug-of-war between indoors and outdoors—and between the preferences of children and parents. It is a battle that children, at home with their electronic amenities, seem to have won—an outcome whose meaning and likely consequences this timely book helps us to understand.
Alan I. Marcus and Amy Bix
Since the creation of the National Science foundation in 1950, the federal government has acknowledged and supported the centrality of science and technology to the global competitiveness of the United States. In this important work, historians Alan I Marcus and Amy Sue Bix present illuminating case studies that highlight crucial policy patterns, shifts in emphasis, and debates over future directions of US science and technology policy.
One major theme that emerges from these studies is that universities quickly became the main vehicles through which national science and technology policy was developed. As universities became involved in implementing federal policy, their role as educational institutions inevitably changed.
Other themes include the effect of gender and minority concerns on policy, as well as the application of social science to selecting research agendas and technology initiatives.
Marcus and Bix’s revealing analysis corrects the misperception that federal science and technology policy is solely concerned with defense. They demonstrate that biotechnology, robotics, nanotechnology, and information science have also become potent policy choices in recent years, impacting such diverse areas of society as medicine, agriculture, energy use, economic trends, and homeland security.
Containing a wealth of information and insightful analysis, this comprehensive chronological study will be especially useful for undergraduate readers, while offering much to graduate students and established scholars.
Michael D. Bailey
The only comprehensive, single-volume survey of magic available, this compelling book traces the history of magic, witchcraft, and superstitious practices such as popular spells or charms from antiquity to the present day. Focusing especially on Europe in the medieval and early modern eras, Michael Bailey also explores the ancient Near East, classical Greece and Rome, and the spread of magical systems_particularly modern witchcraft or Wicca_from Europe to the United States. He examines how magic and superstition have been defined in various historical eras and how these constructions have changed over time. He considers the ways in which specific categories of magic have been condemned, and how those identified as magicians or witches have been persecuted and prosecuted in various societies. Although conceptions of magic have changed over time, the author shows how magic has almost always served as a boundary marker separating socially acceptable actions from illicit ones, and more generally the known and understood from the unknown and occult.
Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women: Autobiographical Sketches by Elizabeth Blackwell
Elizabeth Blackwell and Amy Bix
The history of women as healers dates back many centuries, long before the life of Elizabeth Blackwell. We i have evidence of women as healers and midwives in ancient Greece; for example, some women have funeral inscriptions describing them with the terms "midwife" and "physician." Women's practice of medicine was not universally welcomed; in Athens during the fourth century BCE, female healers were apparently accused of performing illegal abortions and banned from the profession. Stories suggest that one of the era's most famous medical women, Agnodice, had to cut her hair and dress in men's clothing to attend physicians' classes, since her practice of medicine was illegal. Allegedly, when her secret was revealed, Agnodice had won such support among a high-status female clientele that those women blocked their husbands and friends from punishing her. According to some accounts, Agnodice was permitted to continue her work, and the laws were amended to allow women to study and practice medicine as long as they confined their treatments to a female clientele.
Michael D. Bailey
Witchcraft has proven an important, if difficult, historical subject to investigate and interpret over the last four decades or so. Modern historical research into witchcraft began as an attempt to tease out the worldview of ordinary people in 16th- and 17th-century England, but it quickly expanded to encompass the history of witchcraft in most cultures and societies that have existed with scholarly studies now extending back to the time of earliest law code that punished sorcery, the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.E.), and forward to the last witchcraft cases in England, those of Helen Duncan and Jane Yorke, tried in 1944. There has also been a significant amount of interest in the development of the modern religion of witchcraft, or Wicca, as various forms of neo-paganism continue to attract adherents.
Fontell Littrell's grandmother was a devout Latter-Day Saint. But when Fontell's father turned to bootlegging and poker to support an extended family of ten during the dirty thirties, her grandmother took it in stride. "The Lord works in mysterious ways, his miracles to perform," she rationalized.
The Litrells' story and those of thousands of others who rode out the dust bowl in southwest Kansas are the focus of Pamela Riney-Kehrberg's study of survival in a drought-ridden decade. Unlike other historians, who have dwelt on those who fled hardship, Riney-Kehrberg concentrates on the majority—three-quarters of the population—who endured.
Examining the social impact of drought and depression, she illustrates how both farm and town families dealt with the deprivation by finding odd jobs, working in government programs, or depending on federal and private assistance. Years of tribulation, she shows, affected standards of living, family relationships, city and county finances, land ownership, farm prices and production, population shifts, and politics (traditionally staunchly Republican, southwest Kansas twice voted for Roosevelt). Looking also at the environmental impact, Riney-Kehrberg presents both the negative and positive sides of farming practices and governmental intervention.
Most Kansans persevered for nearly ten years, Riney-Kehrberg emphasizes, and how they adapted indelibly altered their outlook and plans for the future More than fifty years later, the devastating dust storms continue to affect agricultural practices and policy and the population of southwest Kansas.
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