This article is part of SWE Magazine’s Spring 2017 Issue. To view it on your mobile device, download the SWE Magazine app! Download it on the App Store or get it on Google Play.
Elaine Pitts, F.SWE, was instrumental to the growth of the Society of Women Engineers from the early years on, holding numerous leadership positions and assuming responsibility on all levels of the organization, including the board of directors and board of trustees. She worked on the First International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists, held in 1964, and was a mentor to many younger women.
Pitts had a career with numerous twists and turns, starting as a packaging engineer with a mail order company in her native Chicago, and ending up in New York City as vice president of corporate relations for the Sperry & Hutchison Co. One of her delights in that position was working with 4-H clubs around the country. After retiring, she moved to California to start a packaging company with an old friend.
Elected a SWE Fellow in 1981, Pitts was also an officer with American Women in Radio and Television and the Society of Packaging and Handling Engineers.
Locally, Pitts was instrumental in saving and expanding the library in her new hometown of Foster City, California. She joined the Rotary Club at age 94, and traveling with her walker, helped deliver wheelchairs to Mexico as part of a service project.
Pitts was devoted to her husband, Paul, loved traveling, golf, meeting new people, and helping people. For her 99th birthday, the community in Foster City honored her with a party. At press time, we learned that Pitts had just died, a few months shy of her 100th birthday.
Who Are the Women Engineers We Should Know?
Quite often, those who are behind the scenes and out of the limelight make real change in the workplace and in our communities. It is our intention to recognize such women and make their efforts better known in our SWE Magazine series “Women Engineers You Should Know.”
Casting a wide net, SWE Magazine staff and editorial board members seek contemporary women whose lives have embodied the Society’s mission to: “Stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force for improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity.”
Through a variety of means, including fielding suggestions and conducting archival research, we will examine the stories of many women who have made a difference in these critical areas. Determining a final list is a daunting challenge, and our selections are in no way meant to be definitive. While some names you may recognize, many are not recognizable to most people. From a variety of perspectives, in different environments and moments in time, these women represent “ordinary” when doing “extraordinary” things. In saluting them, we are saluting all the women, known and unknown, past and present, who have advanced our mission.
Nominate women engineers to know for our next article. The deadline for submission of names is December 15, 2017. Submit nominations here.
With each submission, please include the following.
- Nominee info: name, why her, links supporting your nomination, areas of expertise, where is she located
- Nominator info: name, email, how you know the nominee
Thanks for your help, and look for the Spring 2018 issue of SWE Magazine.