Bill Nye, the Science Guy, was Pretty Cool, but his Mom was even Cooler

Liz Jin
History of Women
Published in
4 min readJun 15, 2023

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Jacqueline Jenkins-Nye was part of a group of top-secret female codebreakers during WWII

Bill Nye and her mother, Jacqueline Jenkins-Nye; image source.

For much of the 1990s, Bill Nye was the beloved host of the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” TV show. Clad in a white lab coat and quirky bow ties, he was the ultimate cool teacher who made science fun and approachable.

But while Bill’s many achievements are remarkable, perhaps the most admirable thing he ever did was shine a light on the just-as-impressive but unrecognized accomplishments of his mother, Jacqueline Jenkins-Nye.

“She wasn’t Rosie the Riveter. She was Rosie, the top-secret codebreaker.”

It all started with an ad in the newspaper. Jacqueline was a natural problem-solver who loved solving puzzles, especially crossword puzzles.

So when she saw an ad in the Baltimore Sun seeking people who enjoyed doing crossword puzzles, she couldn’t resist responding. That impulsive move would forever change the trajectory of her life.

The true purpose of the newspaper ad was to recruit women like Jacqueline — who excelled in math and the sciences — as professional codebreakers for the Navy.

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Liz Jin
History of Women

“I wake up in the morning with a desire to both save the world and savor the world. That makes it hard to plan my day.”