Rosie The Programmer: The Feminist Tech Pioneers Of World War II - Top news: TITLE

The women who responded to Dowse’s survey graduated at a time when only about 4 percent of American women completed four years of college, in part because the jobs available to women were so sparse that it was hardly worth the tuition. At the time, gender segregation was so deep and profound that women were barred from many top colleges and universities, and even coed schools often had a cap on the number of women admitted. Graduate schools in fields like law, medicine, architecture, and engineering were worse: Women were admitted in ones or twos or shut out completely, with the idea that they’d be taking a spot from a “breadwinning man.” As a result, women often felt obliged to pursue “Mrs. degrees”—that is, marry right away—and even the best women’s colleges tended to steer undergraduates away from majoring in math and science, knowing they would have a hard time finding jobs. After the war began, educators still worried about creating more female math majors; despite the pleading from employers, they suspected the jobs would be temporary and the women would have the rug yanked from under their feet. The president of Goucher College, a respected women’s college in Baltimore, noted with disgust that one corporate titan asked him for 20 female engineers but added, “Select beautiful ones, for we don’t want them on our hands after the war.”

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