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NASA Once Made an Official Ruling on Women and Pantsuits

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Student Kathy L. Jackson wearing pants as she greets Astronauts and MSFC Personnel(L-R); ASTRONAUTS Rusty Schweickart, Owen Garriott, and MSFC Skylab Program Manager Leland Belew. NASA/MSFC

Student Kathy L. Jackson wearing pants as she greets Astronauts and MSFC Personnel(L-R); ASTRONAUTS Rusty Schweickart, Owen Garriott, and MSFC Skylab Program Manager Leland Belew. NASA/MSFC

In 1970, NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Centre was forced to address a tricky new issue in the realm of women in space: the validity of pants in the workplace. 

Women and pants have a strange relationship throughout the 20th century, and further back, too, though for the moment we aren’t going to get into Joan of Arc wearing men’s armour. Pants — or trousers or slacks — began the last century as men’s clothing, but it wasn’t long before exceptions started to appear in the form of athletic wear.  In the 1920s, women could wear knee-length bloomers or knickers while playing sports, though even this purposely use of traditionally men’s clothing didn’t protect women from drawing negative attention.

Nevertheless, women began favouring slacks in the 1920s and 1930s for comfort (and also pockets) often with disastrous results. In 1938, kindergarten teacher Helen Hulick was held in contempt and given a five-day jail sentence for appearing in court in slacks. And she wasn’t on trial — she was testifying against a burglar! She ultimately testified… in a jail-issued dress. In the years that followed, women working in factories or serving as aviators were able to wear pants or coveralls because it was far more convenient and safe than wearing a dress around machinery. 

But a handful of actresses began to shift the perception of women in pants around the same time. Kate Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mozelle Britton, and Fay Wray were all stars who opted for slacks over the traditional dresses; Hepburn’s propensity for pants ultimately became one of her most distinctive characteristics. But while celebrities were able to continue dressing in slacks, it didn’t change the reality that ordinary women risked imprisonment for wearing pants as late as the 1960s. It was deemed indecent, the formal charge often being “masquerading as men.”

By 1970, however, the second wave of feminism had begun to shift the perception of women in pants in earnest. Not only could women wear slacks, but jeans were also acceptable, and the pantsuit was becoming a symbol of power. The suit, the incredibly masculine symbol of power, not had a feminine counterpart. 1970 was also the year the pantsuit revolution hit NASA. 

Last year, I spent a solid four days in the NASA archives researching for my new book (more on that later) and among the unrelated but fascinating things I found was this memo to “All Goddard Girls” with the subject line “Pant Suits.”

In short, the memo asked all women at Goddard to consider whether they thought pant suits were really appropriate, not only as women in science but as women working for the US Government. The memo ends allowing for  “If you feel that pantsuits will not be offensive to your boss and would not embarrass him when he has outside visitors, I see no objection to your wearing such outfits.” 

The whole of it is here:

The Pantsuit Memo. NASA Archives.

The Pantsuit Memo. NASA Archives.

Sources: Some links are in the body of the post; Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America By Lillian Faderman; NASA Archives.

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Ecology

Yukon and Northern BC First Nations tackle climate change using Indigenous knowledge and science

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YUKON, June 18, 2021 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is working together in partnership with Indigenous and Northern communities in finding solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the North.

Today, Minister of Northern Affairs, Daniel Vandal, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), Larry Bagnell, highlighted progress on three unique, Indigenous-led projects that are helping communities in Yukon and Northern British Columbia adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary met virtually with Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) to learn about their community-led climate change monitoring program. C/TFN has partnered with Tsay Keh Dene Nation (TKDN) and Chu Cho Environmental of Prince George, British Columbia, to build a community-led monitoring project that examines environmental data and Indigenous knowledge to create a holistic picture of how the climate is changing across C/TFN and TKDN traditional territories. The project combines tracking of current and historical climate trends with knowledge shared by Elders while also providing opportunities for youth mentorship and climate change awareness.

The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) is also leading a unique project to assess the impacts of climate change within their traditional territory. Climate change is causing many of the culturally significant ice patches to melt, exposing organic artifacts to oxygen and leading to rapid deterioration. The TRTFN ice patch mapping project will involve performing archaeological assessments to prevent the degradation of artifacts. Research will be guided by traditional knowledge, Elders and oral histories, when available, and heavily involve community, Elders, youth and Knowledge Keepers.

The Pelly Crossing Selkirk Development Corporation is leading the Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment project through the installation of a Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) system. The initiative includes a feasibility study leading up to the construction of a renewable energy facility, including wind, solar and battery energy storage. Expanding clean energy within the region will have direct benefits for communities, including reduced reliance on diesel, job creation and revenue generation for Selkirk First Nation. 

These projects are delivering important environmental, social and economic benefits that lead to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities across Yukon and Northern British Columbia. They also build community clean energy capacity and help to avoid the impacts of climate change.

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Ecology

Atlantic Provinces Ready For Aquaculture Growth

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Aquaculture is an important economic driver for rural, coastal and Indigenous communities, and Atlantic Canada is well positioned to increase aquaculture production as global demand for sustainably sourced seafood grows.

That is why the ministers responsible for aquaculture in the Atlantic provinces have agreed to the ongoing development and management of their industries based on common principles. A new memorandum of understanding has been signed by the four ministers, which extends the previous agreement signed in 2008.

“In a time when food security is especially important, it is good to see our aquaculture industry has grown steadily and is poised for continued growth in 2021 based on environmentally responsible, science-based policies and practices,” said Keith Colwell, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Nova Scotia. “Our Atlantic partnership continues to help the industry grow sustainably.”

Cooperation between the provinces and the aquaculture industry has led to improvements in pest management, environmentally sustainable aquaculture methods, aquatic animal health and policies to support the shared use of marine and freshwater resources. It also aims to align regulation and policy between the provinces to make the regulatory requirements easier to understand by industry and the public.

Each province has a comprehensive and robust legislative and regulatory framework to ensure environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and public accountability. The provinces update their legislation and regulations regularly. Nova Scotia revamped its regulatory framework in 2015; New Brunswick received Royal Assent for a new Aquaculture Act in 2019 and is working on the supporting regulations; Newfoundland and Labrador completely revised its aquaculture policy in 2019; and Prince Edward Island has recently drafted a new Aquaculture Act.

The ministers have agreed to continue to use science-based evidence for management decisions, thereby increasing public and investor confidence in the Atlantic Canadian aquaculture industry.

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Ecology

COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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We all want the same thing: a clean and responsible energy future for our children and future generations while continuing to enjoy a high standard of living.

On December 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new climate plan which he claimed will help achieve Canada’s economic and environmental goals.

The proposed plan by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” will have an initial investment of $15 billion of taxpayer’s money. It is built on 5 pillars of action:

  1) Making the Places Canadians Live and Gather More Affordable by Cutting Energy Waste

2) Making Clean, Affordable Transportation and Power Available in Every Community

3) Continuing to Ensure Pollution isn’t Free and Households Get More Money Back

4) Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage

5) Embracing the Power of Nature to Support Healthier Families and More Resilient Communities  

In my paper, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0” I will objectively critique each pillar in the government’s new climate plan and provide alternative solutions to the same issues.

  This is an alternative plan that supports workers, protects lower income earners and creates economic growth while respecting the environment and focusing on the dignity of work.

  This plan abandons virtue-signaling projects and relies on Canadian ingenuity to build our economy and restore Canada’s role of responsible leadership in the world.

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