Lou Duacsek is a U.S Naval Air Forces veteran who joined the Navy in 1949 after earning her degree in Aeronautical Engineering. You can find the Text Set of articles she selected here.
How do the articles Lou selected reflect her perspective on women's history? What interests and experiences shaped Lou’s career? What challenges did she face as a woman in STEM?
Lou graduated from high school in 1943, and spent the next three years working as an aircraft technician. She was part of the group of workers known as “Rosie the Riveters” during World War II. She then earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1949, when it was very unusual for women to get STEM degrees.
Lou had been fascinated by flying from an early age, and learned to fly before she learned to drive a car. Women were not allowed to be pilots in the military until 1974, but she was able to join the Naval Air Forces as a mobilization personnel officer. She served in the Naval Air Forces in various roles, and was even able to do some flying for the Navy when she helped write a manual to guide military pilots in interpreting the weather while flying. She also represented women in the military by serving at the White House in the ceremonial guard detachment for women in the Navy.
When Lou had her first child, she could no longer work for the military because women with children were not allowed to be in the military until 1975. She continued supporting the Navy as a military spouse (her husband was also in the Navy), and by volunteering in the Navy Relief Office. Throughout her life, she has seen great changes in the opportunities available to women in the military and in STEM careers, and the Newsela articles in her Text Set reflect those changes.
Women who inspire Lou:
Amelia Earhart and Maya Angelou
Advice Lou gave to her three daughters:
“Don’t ever say you can’t do something because you’re a girl or a woman. You may not be physically strong enough to do it, you may not be mentally attuned to it, but it’s not because you’re a woman. Never underestimate yourself.”