History of women in engineering
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HISTORY OF WOMEN IN ENGINEERING. Kauser Jahan 1 , Beena Sukumaran 1 , Jennifer Kadlowec 2 and Harriet Hartman 3 1 Civil and Environmental Engineering 2 Mechanical Engineering 3 Sociology. Objectives. Overview of history of women in science and engineering in ancient times

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History of women in engineering


Kauser Jahan1, Beena Sukumaran1, Jennifer Kadlowec2 and Harriet Hartman3

1 Civil and Environmental Engineering

2 Mechanical Engineering

3 Sociology



  • Overview of history of women in science and engineering in ancient times

  • Women have made many contributions and advancements to science and engineering

  • Women have fought hard to gain equality

  • Current status of women in engineering

Women of ancient times


Miriam the alchemist

Miriam the Alchemist

  • Born in Alexandria, Egypt during the 1st or 2nd century A.D.

  • Developed an early distillation process

  • Developed a high temperature double boiler

  • Inventions used primarily in the process of trying to turn metals into gold

  • Founded a school of Chemistry in Alexandria

Hypatia of alexandria

Hypatia of Alexandria

  • Lived in Ancient Egypt from 350-415 A.D.

  • One of the most respected women of her time

  • Many interests

    • Philosophy

    • Mathematics

    • Astronomy

Hypatia of alexandria1

Hypatia of Alexandria

  • Inventor

    • Instrument used in water distillation

    • Device to measure gravity of water

    • Planisphere (still used today)

      • Shows where constellations will be on any given night

  • Killed by fanatical Christian Monks who were threatened by her popularity

Womens rights age of reform


Seneca falls convention of 1848

Seneca Falls Convention of 1848

  • Designed/organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

  • Convention advocated women’s equality

  • “Declaration of Sentiments” outlined injustices that women suffered

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Injustices suffered by women

Injustices Suffered By Women

  • Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law

  • Not allowed to vote

  • No voice in formation of laws

    • Had to abide by them

  • Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives

    • Could beat and punish their wives without fear of punishment

  • Divorce and child custody laws favored men

Injustices suffered by women1

Injustices Suffered By Women

  • Women had to pay property taxes

    • no representation in the levying of these taxes

  • Most occupations closed to women

    • When women did work, they were paid a fraction of what men earned

  • Professions such as medicine, engineering or law were denied

  • No college or university would accept female students

Declaration of sentiments

Declaration of Sentiments

  • Document written during the convention that was based on the Declaration of Independence

  • In the document Stanton wrote,

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

Mary kies

Mary Kies

  • May 5, 1809

  • Recipient of 1st US patent awarded to a female

  • Developed a method for weaving straw with silk

Women in engineering


Engineering education

Engineering Education

  • Engineering schools for men were established with the advent of the Industrial Revolution

  • 1802 USMA, West Point (Military school)

  • 1824, RPI, Troy, NY (Civilian school)

  • 1821 Troy Female Seminary

  • 1837 Mt. Holyoke Seminary

  • 1865 Vassar College

  • 1875 Smith, Wellesley

  • 1885 Bryn Mawr

Age of Reform


Equal Rights

Right to Vote

Rights for Education

Morrill Act of 1862

Ellen henrietta swallow richards

Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards

  • First woman admitted to MIT

  • 1876: Successfully lobbied to open the

    Women’s Laboratory at MIT

  • Worked as a Sanitation Chemistry Assistant at MIT

    • Tested home furnishings and foods for toxic contaminants

    • Investigated water pollution and designed safe sewage systems

  • 1879: First female member of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers

Elizabeth bragg

Elizabeth Bragg

  • 1876: First engineering degree awarded to an American woman

    • Civil Engineering, UC Berkeley

  • 1884 Kate Gleason, Cornell University

    • Gear Technology Gleason Works

  • 1892 Elmina Wilson, Iowa State College

    • First female instructor

  • 1893 Berta Lamme, Ohio State University

    • Electrical engineering focus

  • History of women in engineering

    Rosalind Franklin

    Born: London, England, July 25, 1920

    Died: London, England, April 16, 1958

    Pioneer Molecular Biologist

    Franklin was responsible for much of the research and discovery work that led to the understanding of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA. The story of DNA is a tale of competition and intrigue, told one way in James Watson's book The Double Helix, and quite another in Anne Sayre's study, Rosalind Franklin and DNA. James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins received a Nobel Prize for the double-helix model of DNA in 1962, four years after Franklin's death at age 37 from ovarian cancer.

    Maria sklodowska curie

    Maria SklodowskaCurie

    • First woman to win a Nobel Prize

      • 1903: Physics

        • Discovery of radium and polonium

      • 1911: Chemistry

        • Isolation of radium and its chemical properties

    • World War I

      • Believed that X-rays could help locate bullets and facilitate surgery

      • Invented X-ray vans and trained 150 female attendants

    Rachel louise carson

    Rachel Louise Carson

    • 1936: First woman to pass the civil

      service test

    • U.S. Bureau of Fisheries

      • Worked as junior biologist

      • After 15 years, she was the chief editor

        of all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Publications

    • Has been called the mother of the modern environmental movement

    Professional societies


    Society for the promotion of engineering education

    Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education

    • Formed in 1893

    • Later named American Society for Engineering Education

    • At the time of formation, only 3 women had received engineering degrees

    American society of civil engineers

    American Society of Civil Engineers

    • First woman to address was Emily Warren Roebling, in 1852

    • Nora Blatch de Forest inducted as “junior member” in 1909.

      • Was not allowed further advancement

      • Granddaughter of Cady Stanton

    • Elsie Eaves became the first female member in 1957

    Society of women engineers

    Society of Women Engineers

    • Established in 1950

    • First President was Beatrice Hicks (chemical engineering)

    • SWE Objectives

      • To inform young women, their parents, counselors, and the public in general of the qualifications and achievements of women engineers and the opportunities open to them.

      • To assist women engineers in readying themselves for a return to active work after temporary retirement.

      • To serve as a center of information on women in engineering.

      • To encourage women engineers to attain high levels of educational and professional achievement.

    Tau beta pi

    Tau Beta Pi

    • Established at Lehigh University in 1885

    • Limited to men until 1969

    • Badges were authorized for women as an alternative to membership

      • In 84 years, only 619 badges were awarded by 98 chapters

    • Women were allowed full membership in 1969

    Engineering workplace

    Engineering WorkPlace

    • Only 16% of scientists, 9% of engineers and 4% of computer scientists in the U.S. are women.

    • Women leave science and engineering careers twice as frequently as men.

    • Women's salaries in science and engineering lag behind men's by 12 to 15 percent.

      * AWSEM

    Women in academia of female faculty in engineering

    Women in Academia - % of Female Faculty in Engineering

    • Full Professors 1.4%

    • Associate Professors 6.3%

    • Assistant Professors 13.7%

    Female deans of engineering colleges

    Female Deans of Engineering Colleges

    • Dr. Eleanor Baum - Cooper Union

    • Dr. Kristina M. Johnson - Duke University

    • Dr. Ilene Busch-Vishniac - Johns Hopkins University

    • Dr. Janie M. Fouke - Michigan State University

    • Dr. Dianne Dorland - Rowan University

    • Dr. Zorica Pantic-Tanner - San Francisco State University

    • Dr. Stacie Swingle Nunes - SUNY-New Paltz

    • Dr. Linda C. Lucas - University of Alabama-Birmingham

    • Dr. Jane C.S. Long - University of Nevada-Reno

    • Dr. Denice D. Denton - University of Washington

    • Dr. Nancy Jannik - Winona State University

    • Dr. Linda Katehi – Purdue University

    • Dr. Maria Klawe – Princeton University

    • Dr. Belle W. Y. Wei-San Jose State University

    Current status


    Undergraduate enrolment in engineering programs

    Undergraduate Enrolment in Engineering Programs

    Source: NSF

    Edith m flanigen

    Edith M. Flanigen

    • Earned over 102 U.S. patents

      • Innovations in petroleum refining and research

    • Made gasoline production cleaner and safer

    • Same filtering devices used to purify water and clean up the environment

    • Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

    Why do we have lower numbers of women in engineering

    Why do we have lower numbers of women in Engineering?

    • Gender differences in preparation for science and mathematics

    • Lack of female role models

    • Lack of Advancement

      • Glass Ceiling in the Management

    • Lack of Mentoring

      • Guidance and Encouragement from peers

    • Lack of Training Opportunities

    • Family Issues



    • Crystal Mattson, Sophomore in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rowan University

    • Betty Reynolds and Jill Tietjen (2001) “Setting the Record Straight: The History and Evolution of Women’s Professional Achievement in Engineering”, White Apple Press.

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