Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 267
Code Girls, by Liza Mundy, tells the story of a secretive group of female code-breakers, university co-eds, who were recruited by the U.S. government to work as cryptographers during World War II. The significance of Mundy’s book lies in the fact that she was able to illuminate, through the stories of these women, not only their contributions to the country but the general experience of women who lived and struggled to achieve professional careers at this time. The fact that these women were unrecognized as heroes speaks to fact that they were sworn to secrecy due to the nature of their jobs. However, it also speaks to the fact that women during this time were widely unrecognized for their intellectual capability and professional accomplishments. Mundy made sure they were not ignored.
The women who served as code-breakers were among the best in their schools. At the time they served, however, well-educated women were undervalued by most of society. They were discouraged from having careers, and those that did have them rarely entered scientific or technical fields. The fact that the government recruited women at this time reflected a shift in perspective. These women were instrumental to America’s war effort and America’s victory, yet until Mundy told their stories few people were aware of their work. Furthermore, they proved themselves capable of succeeding at highly intellectual work. Code Girls gives these women their well-deserved accolades. It also highlights their struggle to be taken seriously by male colleagues and their struggle to reconcile their traditional roles as women with their emerging roles as scientific professionals.
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