Laura Puaca Wins History of Science Society Prize

History professor honored for book on feminism and national security.

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Dr. Laura M. Puaca, Associate Professor of History, has won the History of Science Society’s Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize for her book, Searching for Scientific Womanpower: Technocratic Feminism and the Politics of National Security, 1940-1980.

Recognized by the prize committee for its “analytic wit,” “expository skill,” and impressive use of “excellent primary sources,” Puaca’s book uncovers efforts to encourage women in STEM fields in the two decades before the women’s movements of the 1960s. Focusing on World War II and early Cold War years, Puaca demonstrates how reformers routinely used national security rhetoric and scientific “manpower” concerns to justify the education and employment of women in these areas.

In addition to expanding opportunities for individual women, these efforts also illustrate the range of meaningful reform taking place in a period popularly remembered as the heyday of domesticity, and helped pave the way for later activism. Puaca sheds new light on the history of American feminism, the politics of national security and the complicated relationship between the two.

“I am extremely honored to be chosen as the winner of the 2017 Margaret W. Rossiter Prize, which is aptly named for the scholar who pioneered the history of women scientists," Puaca says. "Professor Rossiter has had an enormous influence on my academic and intellectual trajectory, and I am incredibly grateful both to her and to the History of Science Society for their support of my work.”

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