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Wise Gals Reader’s Guide

By Nathalia Holt

Wise Gals by Nathalia Holt


1. Wise Gals tells the story of a small group of women who strove to create equality within the workplace during and after World War II. Though their story is set in the past, did you relate to any of the hardships these women, and others at the CIA, had to face? If so, how did you handle it?

2. If Adelaide Hawkins, Mary Hutchison, Eloise Page, and Elizabeth Sudmeier hadn’t helped create the CIA, do you think the organization would be different today? Why or why not?

3. Which of the Wise Gals’ stories in the field were your favorite to learn about?

4. Do you have a favorite Wise Gal? If so, who and why? Is there one Wise Gal you relate to most, and if so, who and why?

5. Although Adelaide Hawkins was a founding member of the Office of Strategic Services, later known as the CIA, everyone outside her profession thought she was merely a clerk. If you were Adelaide Hawkins, would it have been difficult to keep this secret? Why or why not?

6. Jane Burrell received a letter in July 1943 stating she would be transferred overseas, even though she had requested to travel only occasionally when she joined the OSS. If you were Jane, would you have accepted the overseas position? Why or why not? How did this one decision change Jane’s life and the country’s trajectory?

7. Were you surprised by Elizabeth Sudmeier’s decision when she was forced to choose between the love of her life and the career of her dreams? What would you have done if you were in Liz’s shoes?

8. It has been proven that women’s contributions to major events in history have been hidden from the public, some even lost in time. Why do you think it’s important to tell these little-known stories and bring women’s achievements to the forefront?

9. What do you think was special about the Wise Gals’ friendships and connections with one another? What did it give them the power to do—and if they hadn’t connected, do you think their lives would have gone down different paths?

10. If there was one thing to take away from the Wise Gals’ stories, what would it be?

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