Dixie Lee Ray

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  • Topic: Dixy Lee Ray, John Spellman, Nuclear power
  • Pages : 15 (6047 words )
  • Download(s) : 144
  • Published : December 20, 2012
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Abstract

Dr. Dixy Lee Ray grew up near the sea in Washington State. As a girl she was a scholar and a champion athlete--at age 12 she was the youngest person to scale Mt. Rainier, America's highest mountain. Her love of the sea drove her to earn a doctorate in Marine Biology; she had her own television show while teaching at the university, and led an international scientific expedition. Dixy Lee became the first woman to head the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and, later, the first woman to be elected governor of the State of Washington. Dr. Ray was a person who went from an academic world as a researcher in marine biology, to the Atomic Energy Commission focused on nuclear energy, and then into politics during a time that women were still fighting for equal rights in a man’s world. This paper will probe the early years to help explain what led her to become a marine biologist. To understand the processes she went through to reach that goal and the hardships she endured to achieve her degree. Additionally, explore her early years as a scientist, her goals and accomplishments as well as her recognitions, as well as her time as the Chair of the Atomic Energy Commission and what led her to run for the governorship of the State of Washington. Dr. Ray broke through the glass-ceiling for women in leadership through the ups and downs of being a woman in science and politics, and blazed trails for future women scientists and politicians.

The Early Life

Dixy Lee Ray was born on September 3, 1914 in Tacoma, Washington. She was the second of five daughters to Frances Adam and Alvis Ray (Guzzo, 1980). She was christened Margaret at birth but never but used that name. Her family called her “that little dickens,” soon shortened to “Dick.” She used that nickname through grade school, but in sixth grade renamed herself for her favorite region, discarding the spelling of “Dixie” as too sissified. The “Lee” is for the Confederate general, a distant relative. She legally changed her name at the age of 18. (Duncan, Matassa, & Simon, 1994) Dixy’s father had a very bad temper which got worse when he drank too much. When he got mad he would get a stick and Dixy was hit many times with his stick. When things would get bad she would escape to the beach near her home. She loved to watch the tiny fish and wonder what they ate that must be smaller than them. She wanted to know all about everything that lived in the sea. (Verheyden-Hilliard, 1985) At the age of 12, Dixy wanted to climb the highest mountain in America, Mount Rainier. She didn’t know if she could do it. But she knew if she didn’t try, she would never know. So she did try and she succeeded. Dixy set the record for the youngest girl to ever climb to the top of Mount Rainier (Verheyden-Hilliard, 1985). As Dixy grew up, she learned to make puppets. She and her sisters would put on puppet shows about fairytales. The shows were so well done that people paid them to perform. Her mother would drive her and her sisters to churches, schools, and theaters where they were paid to perform and people were waiting in line for the shows. Dixy liked the feeling of independence that earning her own money gave her (Verheyden-Hilliard, 1985). In high school, Dixy joined the Debate Club and the Speaker’s Club. Here she honed the skills that she would use later in life. She also participated in every sport available to girls and won more medals in swimming meets than any other swim team member. She was a straight “A” student in all her classes. Her teachers encouraged her to pursue college but she knew that her parents could not afford to send her to college. So she set out a plan to make college a reality. She first strived for good grades to make her eligible for scholarships to help pay for part of her tuition. She graduated from Tacoma’s Stadium High School with honors and received several scholarship offers but chose to go to Mills College, a women’s...
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