The women of Apollo, 50 years ago

Last Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the American blast off of Apollo 11 that four days later, today, put a man (individual if you're P.C.) on the moon.  So how did the Washington Post, whose motto is "democracy dies in darkness" and considered (by some) to be one of the most influential newspapers in the USA celebrate the initial event? Their tweet sums it up.

Not to be outdone, the following day, the New York Times, which proudly claims "all the news that's fit to print," published an essay, "To Make It to the Moon, Women Have to Escape Earth's Gender Bias," with an accompanying tweet:

As a matter of fact, even communist Russia was more gender-woke half a century ago, according to the N.Y. Times in yet another article: "How the Soviets Won the Space Race for Equality"

O-o-okay.  Yeah, that toxic masculinity thing is so destructive.  So destructive that the Washington Post hired its first female black ("of color," as some say today) reporter in 1961 and finally, deep into the 21st century, the New York Times appointed its first female editor.  She didn't last long.  And both women had a rough time in these self-appointed bastions of present-day enlightenment.

Both papers, along with most of the media, whitewashed (ra-a-acist, I know) that incident in which Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)'s car somehow went off a bridge, ending up in deep waters that same weekend, 50 years ago.  Somehow he survived but didn't tell authorities about the incident until hours later; his female passenger by then was dead.

Now that's toxic masculinity.

Meanwhile, at NASA, 50 years ago, masculinity, yes.  Toxic?  Not so much.  Because even in those pre-woke, politically incorrect days, women and people "of color" actively participated in this "intense, fun" endeavor, as the photo accompanying the Washington Post article and tweet 

And even in the pre-woke time half a century ago, there was some P.C. diversity, pluralism, and multiculturalism at NASA.  Though all the mostly white males might all have looked alike to the N.Y. Times and Washington Post reporters, they had varied ancestral backgrounds, different ethnicities.  The mostly white males mostly came from across America.  They were mostly of many Christian denominations.  But others were Jewish.  Some even professed no religion or were atheists.  Some were born in America, while others immigrated to the U.S. (Legally.)

The Los Angeles Times highlighted several of the unmostly individuals, the women, in "How the women of NASA made their mark on the space program."

The blonde, white lady (I can't write female or woman because that would transform them into sub-men...or something) is Frances "Poppy" Northcutt, a computress.

[M]en were engineers, women "computresses" or "human computers," with less status and less pay.

But Northcutt persevered, and three years later, during the Apollo 8 mission, she would become the first woman to work in Mission Control. ...

"It would be called a hostile workplace" today, she said, but at the time, "we didn't even have that language."

Northcutt never complained to supervisors. ...

She would go on to successfully advocate not only for better pay, but also for improved benefits for women, including maternity leave and affirmative action.  (When she started, labor laws dictated that Northcutt and other women were not paid for working overtime.)

"Being the first woman in Mission Control, I was being asked questions about the status of women at the time.  I began to think more about that.  I began to be more aware of the discrimination that was going on," she said.

Not only did women work at NASA and contribute to the Apollo 11 endeavor, but several of those women were black.  Their work, complicated math done mainly by hand in those pre-complex computer days, is told in Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race and the movie based on it.  As Matt Blitz noted at Popular Mechanics:

For NASA to get John Glenn into space and home safely, institutions that supported prejudices and biases needed to start tumbling down.  All hands (and brains) had to be on deck.

The Los Angeles Times article profiled one of the black women, Christine Darden, a mathematician, a computress, and later an engineer.

[She] had been working as a computress at Langley for five years when she worked up the courage to ask her supervisor in 1972 why only men were allowed to be NASA engineers.

She had assumed the men had engineering degrees, but learned that many had studied mathematics, just as she had at Hampton University and Virginia State, where she earned her master's degree.  NASA even paid for them to take a year of graduate engineering classes. ...

Her boss surprised her.

"He looked at me and said, 'Nobody has ever asked me that question before,'" she said.

Darden pressed him.  "The women do all the work," she observed, "and they don't get promoted very easily."

Two weeks later, she was transferred — and promoted. ...

While working as an engineer and raising two children, Darden studied mechanical engineering part-time for a decade at George Washington University until she earned her doctorate.

The first few weeks were the toughest.

"I was scared, because I knew the class was going to be all males," she said.

For about a month, none of her classmates talked to her.  But after she aced a math test, suddenly men were inviting her to join their study group. ...

"I had a curiosity about what made things work," she said.  "I found the right home at NASA."


Darden also speaks to engineering classes, where professors tell her they struggle to keep female students.  She thinks the problem starts much earlier.  "I tell parents, 'Don't let people tell you what your daughter can't do,'" she said.

Good advice.

So as the Washington Post and N.Y. Times die in the darkness of political correctness that's not fit to print, I offer my congratulations and grateful thanks to all involved on this truly golden anniversary.