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Earhart, Amelia - A Woman's Place in Science (1935)

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An interesting moment of history.

Download and listen to Amelia Earhart's radio broadcast in 1935.


Amelia Earhart was born in Kansas in 1897. In 1928, she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic, and then became the first woman to cross the Atlantic alone in 1932. She was then asked to give frequent public lectures. She quickly became a seasoned public speaker in several promotional campaigns following her record-breaking flights.
Amelia Earhart's only publicly archived speech is a 1935 radio broadcast in which she was invited to speak on the place of women in science. With this radio show, she achieved her highest level of fame.
This speech, unusual in many ways, reflects her love of science and aims to involve women in it. She was known for encouraging women to reject restrictive social norms. When she was looking for a high school, Earhart rejected several until she found one with a science curriculum that suited her. In 1929, she helped found an association of female pilots, which became known as the "Group of 99. She was its first president. In 1933, she launched a line of women's clothing designed for "the woman who leads an active life".
By the time she gave this speech, air travel had been around for about 15 years. The idea that women could fly, or pursue scientific studies, was very unusual. Yet she argued that women had a role to play in the advancement and use of science and aviation. This is a "progressive" vision, and the last point of her speech will come true, but only in times of war: "And finally, there is a place in the (aviation) industry itself, for working women."
While defending avant-garde ideas, the speech is very formal, normative and reasonable: at the time, aviation was a real "social elevator" and it was appropriate to convey this message to the American high bourgeoisie.