In 1981 the National Meeting of the Society of Women Engineers, SWE, was held at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. The theme was innovation for the future and leveraged Tomorrowland. There were about 700 of us, including a female astronaut, who attended meeting, gave papers, and exchanged stories of what it was like being a woman in a traditionally male field.
On the second morning of the convention, we had a breakfast keynote from none other than science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Fahrenheit 451. Many, if not most were eager to hear what he had to say. He came to the podium and, if memory serves, said:
Seven hundred engineers sitting in this one room and all of them women!? Talk about science fiction.
His audience burst into laughter and applause.
It's been almost 30 years to the day that Bradbury made that speech and women have gone from would-be astronauts to command pilots.
The Octane Chicks tee-shirts we handed out at the beginning of the day, which celebrate women, past and present, who went before and helped the rest of us understand that tracking is fun. Today there is a welcoming community of drivers who are glad to have us come out and participate. The majority of instructors were men who gave up their Saturday to help in organizing, running, and coaching this event.
The trailblazers continue to blaze the trail. While some of their names grace the backs of the tee-shirts we handed out, others are on the Ladies' Day program — the organizers of the Ladies Day event and the enthusiastic participants— and some are yet to be written; sisters, daughters, mothers, and new friends we made at the track.