Celebrating Female Engineers Throughout History
Pilar Careaga was the first woman to earn an engineering degree in Spain in 1929 and the first woman in Spain to conduct a train. After completing her degree in industrial engineering, she moved into politics and became the first woman to be mayor of Bilbao, serving the city for eight years.
Nora Santon was the first female member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In 1905, she was the first woman to graduate from Cornell University with a degree in civil engineering. Following her mother and grandmother’s footsteps, Nora also became active in the women’s suffrage movement. In ASCE, she was only a junior member and was not allowed to become an associate member solely because of her gender. In 1916, she sued ASCE for refusing to advance her membership, even though she met all requirements. She lost, and no woman became a full ASCE member for a decade. In 2015, she was posthumously advanced to ASCE Fellow status.
Irmgard Flügge-Lotz was Stanford University’s first female full professor in engineering in 1961. She was the only woman in many of her classes as an Applied Mathematics major. As a pioneer in aviation theory, she made significant advancements in developing methods for predicting the aerodynamic pressures on bodies, wings and turbine blades. In 1970, she received the Achievement award from SWE and was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Dr. Donna Riley is the Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She earned a B.S.E. in chemical engineering from Princeton University and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in Engineering and Public Policy. She was a founding faculty member of the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, the first engineering program at a U.S. women’s college. She received the 2010 Educator of the Year award from the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) and currently serves on the ASEE Diversity Committee.
Dr. Timnit Gebru is the co-founder of Black in AI and the technical co-lead of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team at Google. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Stanford University, then earned her PhD from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, studying computer vision. Currently, she works to both increase diversity in the field and reduce the negative impacts of racial bias in training data used for human-centric machine learning models.
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