Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America's First Women in Space Program, by Margaret A. Weitekamp, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004,
hardcover ISBN 0-8018-7994-9, softcover ISBN 0-8018-8394-6, $45.00 (hardcover), $25.00 (softcover), 6 x 9 inches, 256 pages.
About this publication:
Winner of the American Astronautical Society's 2005 Eugene M. Emme Award for astronautical literature. Margaret Weitekamp shows how the Women in Space program challenged prevailing attitudes about women's suitability for male-dominated vocations. The book is part of the Gender Relations in the American Experience series published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and the author is a curator in the National Air and Space Museum's Space History Division.
On June 17, 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. Curiously, unlike every previous milestone in the "space race," this event did not spur NASA to catch up by flying an American woman. Though there were suitable candidates-two years earlier, thirteen female pilots recruited by the private Woman in Space program had passed a strenuous physical exam and were ready for another stage of astronaut testing-American women would not escape earth's gravity for another twenty years.
In Right Stuff, Wrong Sex, Margaret Weitekamp shows how the Woman in Space program—conceived by Dr. William Randolph Lovelace and funded by world-famous pilot and businesswoman Jacqueline Cochran—challenged prevailing attitudes about women's roles and capabilities. In examining the experiences of the Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees (as the candidates called themselves), this book documents the achievements and frustrated hopes of a remarkable group of women whose desire to serve their country fell victim to hostility toward such aspirations. Drawing from archival research and interviews with participants, Weitekamp traces the rise and fall of the Woman in Space program within the context of the cold war and the thriving women's aviation culture of the 1950s. Weitekamp's study sheds light on a little-known but compelling chapter in the history of the U.S. space program and the rise of the women's movement in America.