In its’ first issue back in 1948, Physics Today ran a feature article written by Bryn Mawr Professor Walter Michaels, about how to encourage women to become and remain physicists. He recognized back then, that societal pressures can push girls away from hobbies that may help them succeed in physics labs.
His article also held similar arguments to those posed in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Both authors noted that at times women need encouragement to prosper professionally. Michael’s wrote “Too many women are satisfied to continue indefinitely as assistants to men, not because they like it but rather because they feel it is what they deserve. As pleasant as it is for men to have these loyal assistants at their beck and call, this means a waste of some of the country’s best brains and it is the job of every academic or industrial laboratory that deals with women to encourage them to more independent work.”
The article though, did have a sense of the sexism prevalent during that time period. Michaels comments on the appearance of one of his students and praises her for being sharp in professional settings, while behaving un-intelligently in social settings.
Read the entire article here: