NASA needs women

A recent NASA article describes an effort by a team of engineers to learn from old rocket engine designs. The initial phase of the project involved resurrecting the gas generator from an old F-1 rocket engine that had been sitting in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.. The formidable F-1 engines are among the most powerful rocket engines ever built. They powered the Saturn V rockets that took astronauts to the moon as part of the Apollo program. The article opens with this paragraph, focusing on the efforts of a hypothetical female rocket engineer:
“Imagine a young engineer examining an artifact from the Apollo era that helped send people on humankind’s first venture to another world. The engineer has seen diagrams of the rocket engine. She has even viewed old videos of the immense tower-like Saturn V rocket launching to the moon. Like any curious explorer, she wants to see how it works for herself. She wonders if this old engine still has the ‘juice.’ Like a car mechanic who investigates an engine of a beloved antique automobile, she takes apart the engine piece by piece and refurbishes it.”
Accompanying the article are several photos of engineers working on the refurbished gas generator. All of these photos depict men. A photo of a team of engineers posing in front of a massive Apollo-era F-1 engine does include one woman, and eight men.
A group of NASA engineers stands in front of an Apollo-era F-1 rocket engine
The hypothetical woman rocket engineer fantasized by the article’s (female) author does not appear to be representative of reality—not yet, at least. For now, it seems, the majority of engineers at NASA are men; and the women remain largely consigned to non-engineering roles like media relations and public affairs.

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