Laura Ettinger

Laura Ettinger

Interview: How to be a Reluctant Pioneer with Laura Ettinger

Laura Ettinger is a professor of History at Clarkson University, a small private school in upstate New York. She focuses on the research and study of women and science in America. She’s just as passionate about her family as she is about her work.

Below is a summary of our interview:


From Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To be yourself in a world that is trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Her Journey

As a  young girl, Laura was a lover of history. She used to take this book of presidents in the United States to bed with her as she loved the stories about their families. In college she majored in history and decided to work at a social service agency after graduation. But she quickly decided to get a Ph.D. in History and is now a professor at Clarkson, where she has been for almost 16 years.

A Low Point

A lot of doubt about herself and her career crept in along her journey. In her second year of grad school at the University of Rochester, she wondered if she could do it. But she ended up staying and seeing it through.

Aha Moment

She’s had the most aha moments in the classroom. It is there that she feels a high. It’s like nothing else is going on.

Laura’s work now  

She is a historian of women and gender in medicine, science and technology.  Her first book was on the history of nurse-midwives in America. Yes, midwifery still exists today. Nurse-midwives were invented as a way to help poor, immigrant women and African-American women who weren’t served well by the health care system. Nurse-midwives were going to help those women left behind; today, they serve everyone. Laura wrote a book, called Nurse Midwifery: the Birth of a New American Profession. And below is the Amazon link:

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Her current work is on the history of women in engineering. 60% of the undergraduate students at Clarkson University, where she teaches, are engineering majors. So she’s been immersed in engineering cultures and has been interviewing the first Clarkson women alumni who graduated in the 1960’s and 1970’s. And Laura’s working on a book on these women called “Reluctant Pioneers.” She tries to be very focused at work when she’s at work. And when she’s home, she tries to be present at home and put work away.

What’s exciting Laura now

She’s already started a new project called “Clarkson Conversations” and her plan is to do a series of interviews with professionals who work to create a better world by defying convention – Clarkson’s tagline. It would be beneficial for Clarkson’s community to hear interviews with people who are trying to make a difference in the world.

A gift from us

Laura Ettinger OneMoreThing

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Lightning Round

Book Laura Recommends:

Pema Chodron’s [easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”center” asin=”1590308433″ cloaking=”default” layout=”left” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”purposerockst-20″]

Helpful Habit:

When she wakes up and is still in bed, she tries to think of 3 things that she’s grateful for.

Internet Resource:

The Ultimate History Project that promotes high quality history accessible to everyone. She’s even on the board of this website.

Helpful Person:

Her mom is definitely one of those people. The other person she names is her husband. He’s been her sounding board.

What’s Your Purpose?

Laura’s purpose is to help others see things in new ways.

Where to follow Laura

Follow her work from her Clarkson webpage, right here:

Parting Words

Use your gifts to make a difference in the world.

An awesome way to spread the word

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