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News & Events
Dr. Laura Puaca Pens New Book
(Newport News, Va.) -
In her new book, Searching for Scientific Womanpower: Technocratic Feminism and the Politics of National Security, 1940-1980, CNU Assistant Professor of History Dr. Laura Puaca sheds new light on the history of American feminism, the politics of national security and the complicated relationship between the two.
This compelling history of what Puaca terms "technocratic feminism" traces contemporary feminist interest in science to World War II and early Cold War years. During this period, when anxiety about America's supply of scientific personnel ran high and when open support for women's rights aroused suspicion, feminist reformers routinely invoked national security rhetoric and scientific "manpower" concerns in their efforts to advance women's education and employment. Despite the limitations of this strategy, it laid the groundwork for later reforms in both science and society. The past and present manifestations of technocratic feminism also offer new evidence of what has become increasingly recognized by scholars as a "long women's movement."
According to Puaca, "This book reveals an important but largely overlooked strand of feminist activism. It challenges not only our thinking about women's roles in mid-20th century America, but also the perception that feminist interest in science emerged fully formed from the women's movements of the 1960s and ‘70s. By understanding the longer history of encouraging women in STEM fields, we can better comprehend the range of female reform taking place in a period that is popularly remembered for its emphasis on domesticity as well as the little-known roots of current-day efforts."
A recent feature on Puaca's book can be found at slate.com.
Puaca holds a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina and a graduate certificate in women’s studies from Duke University. She is also a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in history/political science and women’s studies. Puaca is the recipient of numerous national awards from organizations, including the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Spencer Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She specializes in U.S. women's history and is currently working on a new book that examines disability and domesticity in the post-World War II United States.
A four-year public university in Newport News, Virginia, Christopher Newport University enrolls 5,000 students in rigorous academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences through the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences, including the Luter School of Business. CNU offers great teaching and small class sizes with an emphasis on leadership, civic engagement and honor.
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