“Heavenly Bodies: ‘Manned Space Flight’ and the Women’s Movement,” by Neil Maher.
When space shuttle astronaut Sally Ride landed after becoming the first American woman in space, NASA officials tried to present her with a bright red bouquet of roses during an elaborately choreographed homecoming ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. But Ride turned her back on the flowers, and went on to explain to the gathered reporters that she wanted to be treated no different from her male crewmates. “I’m just one of the guys,” she explained. This talk by Neil Maher explores not only the history of Ride’s historic flight, but also the important role played by the feminist movement during the 1960s and 1970s in pressuring NASA to admit women to its previously all-male astronaut corps. Just as women had marched, protested, and lobbied the halls of Congress during the 1910s for the right to vote, feminists during the 1960s era also took to the streets to demand equality for women in space. Neil Maher’s presentation, which includes group discussions of both political cartoons depicting these women’s protests and a TV interview with Sally Ride herself, will help participants better understand the unexplored role of the space race in the history of the modern women’s movement.
Neil M. Maher Associate Professor, New Jersey Institute of Technology & Rutgers University
Neil is an associate professor in the Federated History Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, where he teaches US environmental and political history. He received his Ph.D. in history from New York University. Neil has published articles in academic journals including the Hudson River Valley Review, and served as Historical Advisor for a PBS American Experience documentary on Franklin Roosevelt. His book, Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement (Oxford University Press, 2008) won the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award for the best monograph in conservation history.
This program, which is free and open to the public, is made possible through the support of the New York Council for the Humanities’ Public Scholars program.
Sponsored by Huntington Memorial Library and Green Toad Bookstore