Thinksteam Blog

Empower, Enable, and Encourage Girls to Excel

Women in STEM: World War 2

April 12, 2020 - Uncategorized -

Hi, I’m Shrudhii Kundu, a New York State Student Ambassador for ThinkSTEAM. Our goal is to raise STEM (with Arts) awareness in middle school girls in order to get them engaged in STEM today so that they can pursue a STEM career in the future. We have all learned a lot about how
women have been oppressed for centuries. However, what we don’t know is that there were many women who fought against society’s standards at that time to pursue their passions. These women dared to dream of jobs that only men partook in and even got those jobs despite what the
social norm was. There are many examples of these kinds of women, but the ones I will be talking about in this blog post are ones that did more than just follow their passion – they served their country. During World War II, everyone knew about the American soldiers fighting for our country.
There were many efforts to aid these soldiers, whom everyone saw as heroes, and rightfully so. Unknown, to most citizens however, behind the scenes, many young college girls were recruited by the U.S. Navy to be Cryptanalysts. Cryptanalysis is the study of analyzing information
systems in order to study the hidden aspects of the systems. It is used to breach cryptographic security systems and gain access to the contents of encrypted messages, even if the cryptographic key is unknown. These college students were trained in intercepting messages and decoding
them to reveal secret messages that might give the USA an upper hand in the war. These girls had already fought society’s standards and were in college doing majors such as math, botany, psychology, history, etc. This took great courage, patriotism, and love of that singular intersection of mathematics and language where cryptography lives. They were adept at math or science or foreign languages, often all three. They were dutiful and patriotic. They were adventurous and willing. And they did not expect any public credit for the clandestine intelligence work they were entering into. However, because they were women and doing something of national secrecy, they had to constantly lie about their jobs. To the world, they
were mere secretaries who emptied out the trash and sharpened pencils. But in reality, they were hard-working individuals who had just as big of a role in helping America win the war as the soldiers on the battlefield did.
It is truly inspirational what these women did despite the time period they lived in. They knew very well that they were putting their lives in danger by doing this job, yet they still chose to do it mostly out of an abundant show of patriotism, but more importantly, their love of STEM. These girls are an inspiration to today’s generation who showed us that there is nothing in this
universe that can stop us from doing what we want.

Shrudhii Kundu

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