Join us in our ongoing series celebrating women in engineering history!
Over the course of science and engineering history, it is undeniable that the field has been mostly male dominated. As a Woman Owned Engineering firm (a registered Florida WBE Engineer), we are proud of women in engineering and role that we have played in history of our field. So, we wanted to share some of the inspiring women in history who have broken the mold in the industry of engineering.
Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972) is credited with creating the foundation for ergonomics in the workplace over the course of her 80 year career — all while raising a family of 12 children. She also had a profound impact on the business management industry, having earned the nickname, “Mother of Modern Management.” Gilbreth was the first to earn a degree in industrial psychology, getting her doctorate from Brown University in 1915. She became the first female member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1926 and the first female professor at the School of Engineering, Purdue University, in 1935.
Here’s a fun fact about Lillian Gilbreth: The popular 1950 film, “Cheaper by the Dozen,” is an adaptation of a story written by two of Gilbreth’s own children. The story shares the experiences of growing up in a house of 12 children, all raised by parents in efficiency and workplace management.
Marilyn Jorgensen Reece (1926-2004) is someone whose work you’ve probably already seen without even knowing it. Reece fell into engineering because she love math but “didn’t want to be a teacher.” In a time when women in the workplace were often pushed toward a career in education, Reece went on to become the first fully licensed female civil engineer in the state of California in 1954. This earned her the project of the San Diego-Santa Monica freeway interchange in Los Angeles. One thing Reece did say about her career is that she didn’t experience any resistance from males in her industry, only support and help among her colleagues.
Edith Clarke (1883-1959) is unique in that she is among the few women who have contributing to engineering for dams. Clarke was the first woman to earn a master\’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became the first female chosen as a fellow by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Most of her career was spent at General Electric (GE), where she became a salaried engineer in 1922 — a major milestone for a woman at the time. After retiring from GE, Clarke went on to become the first female professor in the engineering department at the University of Texas, Austin.
We’ll be sharing more women in engineering history in the coming months, so make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to read more about these inspiring female leaders!
As a note, RDI Structural Engineering is a Woman Owned Enterprise in Florida; we can serve as a St. Petersburg WBE or DBE; Hillsborough County WBE or DBE; Pinellas County WBE or DBE; Tampa WBE or DBE; Manatee County WBE or DBE; Orange County WBE or DBE; and an Orlando WBE or DBE. Call us to complete your MBE/DBE/WBE team!