Delilah and the Space Rigger

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"Delilah and the Space Rigger", a science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein, is one of his most explicitly feminist-themed short stories. One of his Future History stories, it originally appeared in Blue Book in December 1949 and was reprinted in his collection, The Green Hills of Earth (and subsequently The Past Through Tomorrow).

Summary

Gloria Brooks McNye, a Communications Engineer, wangles a job as a radio technician and joins the all-male crew of construction workers building a space station. On her arrival she immediately has a confrontation with the hard-boiled construction superintendent, who hadn't realized she was female. He doesn't want any women "sniffing around my boys" and orders her returned on the next shuttle, only to be overruled by management. The superintendent is constantly putting his foot in his mouth with remarks like, "Mind what [Hammond] tells you. He's a good man," only to hear a brisk, "I know, I trained him." In the end, the superintendent is forced to admit that having a woman on the team has improved morale and efficiency, rather than causing a disruption, and he decides to stop discriminating on the basis of gender. He also asks that a Chaplain be assigned to the station, reasoning, "We may need one anytime."


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