Friday, January 25, 2013

Heinlein

Some time ago I completed the first volume in a biography of Robert Heinlein.

While reading, I came across this gem, set during World War II:


The AML was expanding so rapidly that Heinlein had to recruit engineers everywhere he could--a very scarce commodity when all the young men were in the services.  But he knew there would be an untapped source: he spent the last months of the academic year scouting technical schools all over the East, looking for female engineers. Female engineers would be draft-exempt. He amused himself between interviews checking-and refuting (to his satisfaction) Doc Smith's idea that a woman could have either brains or beauty, but when he saw at first hand the unfair treatment women were accorded by universities, he became incensed. At the university of Delaware, he found that female engineering candidates were not even permitted into the School of Engineering:

I almost went through the roof...then took nasty pleasure in chewing out the President of the University in the presence of a large group of people, by telling him that his University's medieval policies had deprived the country of trained engineers at a time when the very life of his country depended on such people.

It put a huge smile on my face to see this from someone commonly regarded as the grand old sexist of sci-fi writing.

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