Women in Engineering
Engineering is not a career choice for just men. Throughout history Women have played an important role in Engineering.
Here are just a few inspiring women who have made their own stamp on Engineering history.
If you have been inspired and would like to know more about engineering apprenticeships for women fill out our application form. We are always looking for the next star female engineer.
Victoria Drummond MBE; Marine Engineer 1894-1978
At the beginning of the war Drummond became an air raid warden in Lambeth, but in August 1940 she joined SS Bonita at Southampton and sailed to Fowey to load china clay before sailing across the Atlantic. “The ship was attacked for 25 minutes by a bomber, when 400 miles from land,” says the citation for her MBE in the Times.
When the alarm was sounded Drummond at once went below and took charge. The first salvo flung her against the levers and nearly stunned her. When everything had been done to increase the ship’s speed she ordered the engine room and stokehold staff out. After one attack the main injection pipe just above her head started a joint and scalding steam rushed out. She nursed this vital pipe through the explosion of each salvo, easing down when the noise of the aircraft told her that bombs were about to fall, and afterwards increasing steam. Her conduct was an inspiration to the ship’s company.
After 1945 Victoria Drummond superintended some shipbuilding in Dundee, relieved on various Cunard ships, and did short coastal trips round the Mediterranean, or on tankers, and passed her second engineer’s motor examination. In 1952 she supervised building SS Master Nikos at Burntisland, and from 1952 sailed round the world on SS Markab as second engineer.
In 1941, Katharine Stinson became the first woman to graduate with an engineering degree from North Caroline State University. She was one of only five women nationwide to graduate with a degree in engineering that year.
A barrier -breaker from an early age, Stinson always knew she wanted to fly airplanes. In 1932, at the age of 15, she met her idol, Amelia Earhart, who encouraged the lanky Wake County teenager to follow her dream but also warned her that just being a pilot wouldn’t be enough to make a decent living. Stinson’s best bet for success, Earhart said, was to go to college and major in aeronautical engineering. Adhering to that advice, Stinson applied for admission to NC State but was told the university did not accept women as freshmen. Undaunted, she enrolled at nearby Meredith College, completed 48 credit hours in one year, and successfully enrolled at NC State the following autumn.
Her pioneering ways continued after graduation, when she became the first female engineer hired by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, now the Federal Aviation Administration. In 1953, she helped found the Society of Women Engineers. During her 32 years working for the FAA, she was responsible for many engineering firsts, including successfully converting light airplanes into gliders for pilot training during World War II and reconverting the trainers back to engined airplanes after the war
Hedy Lamarr was a famous 1940s actress not formally trained as an engineer, Lamarr is credited with several sophisticated inventions, among them a unique anti-jamming device for use against Nazi radar.
Heddy married Fritz Mandal, the first of six husbands, in 1933. During their marriage, which broke up in 1937, Madame Mandl was an institution in Viennese society, entertaining—and dazzling—foreign leaders, including Hitler and Mussolini. Her husband specialized in shells and grenades, but from the mid-thirties on he also manufactured military aircraft. He was interested in control systems and conducted research in the field. His wife clearly learned things from him, because she and her co-inventor, George Antheil, later went on to invent the torpedo guidance system that was two decades before its time.