Atg Logo Vector

Women’s History Month Through the Scope of SWE

The first day of Women's History Month feels like an excellent time to highlight some noteworthy milestones in STEM industries and some of the outstanding SWE members who have made valuable contributions to the world of engineering and tech.
Women’s History Month Through The Scope Of Swe

Happy Women’s History Month, 2021!

Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields.

The first day of Women’s History Month feels like an excellent time to highlight some noteworthy milestones in STEM industries and some of the outstanding SWE members who have made valuable contributions to the world of engineering and tech. So, let’s begin!

SWE Women’s History Month Timeline


  • Mary Kies becomes the first woman to receive a patent in the United States. While women had been inventors prior to this time, property rights in many states prohibited women from filing patents.


  • Oberlin becomes the first co-educational college in the United States, enrolling both male and female students. However, women were limited to pursuing diplomas in the “Ladies Course” until 1937, when four women enroll in the Collegiate Department.


  • Georgia Female College (later becomes Wesleyan College) in Macon, Georgia is chartered as the nation’s first full college for women. First classes are held in 1839.


  • Catherine Elizabeth Brewer (Benson) becomes the first woman to receive a bachelor’s degree in the United States, from the Georgia Female College. 


  • At the Seneca Falls Convention 100 delegates sign the Declaration of Sentiments, which protests among other things women’s exclusion from colleges and prestigious occupations and their lack of voting, legal, and property rights.


  • Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman in the world to receive a medical degree.


  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony present a petition with 10,000 signatures demanding suffrage and married women’s property rights to the New York legislature.


  • The United States Congress adopts the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees voting rights for all citizens regardless of color. Women, however, are still not considered citizens.
  • A split develops in the woman suffrage movement, with abolitionists supporting the 15th Amendment founding the American Woman Suffrage Association, and women’s rights activists upset that the 15th Amendment did not extend voting rights to women forming the National Woman Suffrage Association.
  • The Wyoming Territory becomes the first territorial or state government to pass a woman’s suffrage law granting women the right to vote.


  • Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman to run in a U.S. presidential campaign, but cannot cast a vote for herself since women cannot legally vote.


  • Ellen Swallow Richards becomes the first woman to receive a B.S. from MIT.


  • Elizabeth Bragg graduates with a civil engineering degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Her thesis is entitled “A Solution of a Peculiar Problem in Surveying. ”She is believed to be the first woman in the country with an engineering degree, although little is known of her life afterward.


  • Helen Magill becomes the first woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D.


  • Ellen Swallow Richards joins the American Institute of Mining Engineers and becomes the first woman to be become a full member of any engineering society.
  • Belva Ann Lockwood becomes the first woman lawyer to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.


  • Emily Roebling oversees the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, which had been designed by her father-in-law and the project was started by her husband. However, she does not receive official credit for her role until 1983.


  • Edith Griswold opens an office in New York City as a draftsman, specializing in patent office drawings. Though she had studied civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering, she did not obtain a degree. Who’s Who in Engineering (1925) recognizes her as both an engineer and a patent law expert.


  • The U.S. Census lists 21 women engineers. Unfortunately, they are not named and no other information is available.
  • Louise Blanchard Bethune becomes the first woman elected to full membership in the American Institute of Architects.


  • Bertha Lamme is considered the first woman electrical engineering graduate in the United States. She receives her degree in mechanical engineering with a specialty in electricity from Ohio State University. She goes on to work at Westinghouse Electric Corporation from 1893 to 1905, when she marries and retires from professional activity.
  • Colorado becomes the first state to pass an amendment granting women the right to vote.
  • New Zealand becomes the first nation to grant women the right to vote.


  • Lena Allen Stoiber qualifies for associate membership in the American Society of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers as the owner of the Silverton Mine in Silverton, Colorado. She is considered the first woman mining engineer.
  • Feminist donors use their gifts to the Johns Hopkins Medical School to compel the admission of women.


  • Marie Curie is awarded Nobel Prize for Physics for discovery of radioactivity.


  • Nora Stanton Blatch becomes the first woman to receive a degree in civil engineering from Cornell University. Although women are not allowed to be full members, the American Society of Civil Engineers admits her as a “Junior Member” because of her age. Her grandmother, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was a primary organizer of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York.


  • Marie Curie is awarded second Nobel Prize for Chemistry for her discovery and isolation of pure radium.


  • Kate Gleason is the first full member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
  • Female engineering and architecture students at the University of Michigan found the T-Square Society.


  • Nora Stanton Blatch DeForest becomes too old to qualify for junior membership in the American Society of Civil Engineers. She meets all the requirements for associate member status, but her application is denied and she is removed from the ASCE membership list. She files a lawsuit against ASCE but loses the case.
  • Jeannette Rankin becomes the first U.S. Congresswoman, representing Montana as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.


  • Canadian women get the vote.


  • Hilda Counts (Edgecomb) and Lou Alta Melton, engineering students at the University of Colorado in Boulder, send a survey to university engineering and architecture departments around the country in order to identify any women who had taken such classes up to that time. After tallying the survey results in 1920 Counts and Melton identify 139 women. That same year they create the short-lived American Society of Women Engineers and Architects.
  • The United States Senate and House of Representatives pass the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which grants women the right to vote, and send it to the states for ratification.


  • Women win the right to vote through ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • The Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor is formed to collect information about women in the workforce and safeguard good working conditions for women.


  • The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is introduced in Congress for the first time.



  • Elsie Eaves becomes the first woman to hold full membership in the American Society of Civil Engineers, 11 years after Nora Stanton Blatch DeForest was denied membership.


  • Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo, and the only person to fly it twice.


  • Frances Perkins becomes Secretary of Labor, the first woman cabinet member in U.S. history.


  • Mary McLeod Bethune organizes the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of black women’s groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism, and sexism.


  • The United States enters WWII. Women’s participation in the workforce increases by nearly 60%.


  • The U.S. military creates women’s branches in each of the armed services. Close to 350,000 women serve in the WAVES (Navy), WACS (Army), SPARS (Coast Guard), MCWR (Marines), and WASP (Air Force).


  • World War II ends. Women are forced to retreat from the labor pool. In the auto industry, the proportion of women on the assembly lines falls from 25% to 7.5%.
  • The first class of women is admitted to Harvard Medical School.


  • Independent engineering student groups, calling themselves “districts” of the Society of Women Engineers, are established in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C. The New York District publishes a newsletter called The Women Engineer, while the Philadelphia District eventually calls its newsletter The Outlook.


  • Edith Clarke is the first female Fellow of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (later called the IEEE).


  • The “Society of Women Engineers of Drexel Institute of Technology” hosts a conference for women engineering students at other East Coast schools. Attendees discuss forming a national women’s engineering group.


  • On May 27-28, nearly 65 women engineers and engineering students arrive at the Green Engineering Camp of The Cooper Union in New Jersey for the first national Society of Women Engineers gathering. Dr. Beatrice A. Hicks is elected as the Society’s first president.
  • The first honorary membership in SWE is presented Dr. Lillian Moller Gilbreth, “First Lady of Engineering” and renowned pioneer in time-motion studies and industrial engineering. Other honorary memberships are presented to Dr. A. W. Grosvenor, Dean of Engineering at the Drexel Institute, and Dorothy R. Young, Dean of Women at Drexel.


  • The first issue of Journal of the Society of Women Engineers is published in the spring and includes 14 pages of news and notes.
  • 112 people attend the first official national convention, held in New York City.


  • On February 13, the Society of Women Engineers is incorporated as a nonprofit educational service organization in the District of Columbia.
  • In September, along with fifty other engineering societies, SWE is invited to participate in the “Centennial of Engineering” in Chicago, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the American Society of Civil Engineers. SWE shares meeting space and a conference program with the Western Society of Engineers.
  • SWE issues its first career guidance publication shortly after Margaret Ingels delivers her “Petticoats and Slide Rules” speech chronicling early women engineers during a speech to members of the Western Society of Engineers at the Centennial of Engineering.
  • The first SWE Achievement Award is given to Dr. Maria Telkes “in recognition or her meritorious contributions to the utilization of solar energy.”
  • Dr. Grace Murray Hopper completes her work on the first computer language compiler, FLOW-MATIC.


  • The Society’s first student sections are chartered at Drexel Institute and Purdue University.
  • The Journal of the Society of Women Engineers is replaced by the SWE Newsletter.


  • More than sixty members and guests from eight SWE sections meet March 19-20 in Philadelphia for the first Eastern Seaboard Conference, a precursor to SWE’s regional conferences.


  • A Board of Trustees is established to manage the headquarters and scholarship funds.
  • The Pacific Northwest Section calls for a letter-writing campaign against CBS and its advertisers after the network airs an episode of the popular family television sitcom Father Knows Best called “Betty, Girl Engineer.” In the episode, a teenage daughter is ridiculed by her family and friends when she declares that she wants to become an engineer.


  • During the SWE National Convention in Houston, African American member Yvonne Y. Clark is denied housing by the conference hotel. Even though SWE officers want to move the convention to a new location at the last minute, Clark resists and instead commutes to the hotel daily. Despite hotel management’s requirement that Clark be escorted, members adopt a strategy to make Clark as visible as possible at the hotel. The Society does not hold another convention south of the Mason-Dixon line until the Civil Rights Act is passed in 1964.


  • The first SWE scholarship is named for honorary member Lillian Moller Gilbreth and is awarded to Phyllis S. Gaylard of the University of California. Gaylard eventually becomes a Fellow of the Society.


  • The Society is comprised of 16 professional sections, nine student sections, and has over 650 members, including almost 200 student members.
  • Dr. Lillian Gilbreth and Dr. Beatrice Hicks are U.S. delegates at the International Management Conference held in Sydney, Australia.
  • Dr. Beatrice Hicks and her husband, Dr. Rodney D. Chipp, tour five South American countries as goodwill ambassadors for the National Society of Professional Engineers.


  • SWE moves into its new headquarters office at the United Engineering Center.
  • Bell Labs and General Electric become SWE’s first corporate members.
  • The SWE Newsletter reprints survey results published in Industrial Relations News, which found that 81 percent of male executives would not consider hiring women engineers.
  • President John Kennedy establishes the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and appoints Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman. The report issued by the Commission in 1963 documents substantial discrimination against women in the workplace and makes specific recommendations for improvement, including fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave, and affordable child care.


  • The first conference held in the United States devoted exclusively to women in professional engineering is held at the University of Pittsburgh at the request of the president’s Office of Emergency Planning. SWE members Dorothy J. Rahn and Emma C. Barth are members of the conference planning committee. SWE President Patricia Brown chairs the opening day luncheon and panel discussion members include SWE vice president Aileen Cavanagh, past president Beatrice Hicks, and Emma Barth.


  • The statistics committee publishes its first Profile of a Woman Engineer, based on a member survey. The report finds that “The average woman engineer of today is between 36 and 37 years old. She is equally likely to be married or single, but if married she has three children. She is employed by industry and earns a median salary of between 9 and 10 thousand dollars per year. A college graduate, she has a bachelor’s degree in engineering or one of the physical sciences and either has a graduate degree or has taken specialized training related to her work. She is a member of one or more of the technical societies. She is unlikely to be a licensed professional engineer.”
  • Women receive degrees from Harvard University for the first time, although Radcliffe students had taken classes at Harvard since the 1940s.
  • The U.S. Congress passes the Equal Pay Act on June 10, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job.
  • Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.


  • SWE sponsors the first International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists (lCWES) in New York City, which draws over 500 participants from 35 countries. In conjunction with the event, “Women Engineers and Scientists Day” is held at the New York World’s Fair on June 15. As a result of the success of the first ICWES, a resolution is made to hold ICWES conferences every three years.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination in employment on the basis of race and sex. At the same time it establishes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate complaints and impose penalties.


  • Dr. Lillian Moller Gilbreth, SWE’s first honorary member, is the first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering.


  • Dr. Lillian Moller Gilbreth receives the prestigious Hoover Medal, the highest award in engineering given by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. She is the first woman to receive the award.
  • The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded by a group of feminists including Betty Friedan. The largest women’s rights group in the U.S., NOW seeks to end sexual discrimination, especially in the workplace, by means of legislative lobbying, litigation, and public demonstrations.


  • Executive Order 11375 expands President Lyndon Johnson’s affirmative action policy of 1965 to cover discrimination based on gender. As a result, federal agencies and contractors must take active measures to ensure that women as well as minorities enjoy the same educational and employment opportunities as white males.


  • The EEOC rules that sex-segregated help wanted ads in newspapers are illegal. This ruling is upheld in 1973 by the Supreme Court, opening the way for women to apply for higher-paying jobs hitherto open only to men.


  • Engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi admits women as full members for the first time since the organization’s founding in 1885. Previously, female engineering students were only eligible for the Tau Beta Pi Women’s Badge.


  • The Society has 17 professional section, 31 student sections, and just over 1,100 members, including 371 student members.
  • Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, 1964 SWE Achievement Award recipient, becomes the first woman to receive the Harry Goode Award from the IEEE Computer Society.
  • In Schultz v. Wheaton Glass Co., a U.S. Court of Appeals rules that jobs held by men and women need to be “substantially equal” but not “identical” to fall under the protection of the Equal Pay Act. An employer cannot, for example, change the job titles of women workers in order to pay them less than men.


  • The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in a vote of 354 to 24.
  • Betty Friedan and Rep. Shirley Chisholm found the National Women’s Political Caucus.


  • The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is approved by the U.S. Senate with a vote of 84 to 8. The amendment is sent to the states for ratification. “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
  • Title IX of the Higher Education Act bans sex discrimination in schools. It states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” As a result of Title IX, the enrollment of women in athletics programs and professional schools increases dramatically.
  • Katherine Graham becomes the first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company when the Washington Post Co. makes the list. Graham had been in charge since 1963.


  • The SWE Council of Section Representatives endorses the Equal Rights Amendment.


  • SWE increases the number of scholarships offered from one to 13, and the Gilbreth Scholarship becomes fully endowed.


  • The Society has 3,000 members, triple the number of members SWE had five years prior.


  • SWE admits men as members, including all Men’s Auxiliary (MASWE) members, with full rights and privileges of the membership grade in which they are eligible.
  • The Council of Section Representatives votes to add one representative from each student region as a voting member of the council.


  • U.S. President Jimmy Carter appoints SWE President Arminta Harness as a delegate-at-large to the National Women’s Conference in Houston. President Carter later asks several dozen leaders of women’s organizations, including SWE, to a White House briefing on the Panama Canal Treaty, which Harness attends.
  • The Council of Section Representatives passes a resolution to hold future conventions only in states that ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.


  • The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiates a “Women’s History Week” celebration, which forms the basis of National Women’s History Month.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women. Under the Act, a woman cannot be fired or denied a job or a promotion because she is or may become pregnant, nor can she be forced to take a pregnancy leave if she is willing and able to work.


  • The SWE national convention hosts more than I,000 attendees for the first time.
  • 1975 SWE Achievement Award recipient Dr. Sheila Widnall is elected chair of the 936-member faculty of MIT, the first woman and the youngest person ever to be selected for the post.


  • The Society has 40 professional sections, 154 student sections, and over 9,600 members, including almost 6,800 students.
  • SWE hosts a National Leadership Conference with women engineers from the United States, Canada, Italy, and Puerto Rico to discuss “A View From the Top,” or how to make it up the corporate ladder.
  • President Carter issues the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.



  • The ERA fails to be ratified.


  • Columbia University opens admission to female students, the last of the Ivy League schools to become coeducational.


  • Sally Ride, NASA mission specialist and the first American woman astronaut to go into space, is given honorary membership in SWE.
  • Geraldine Ferraro becomes first woman vice-presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party.
  • Kathryn Sullivan is first U.S. woman astronaut to walk in space.


  • SWE senior member Judith A. Resnik, NASA mission specialist, is aboard the Challenger Space Shuttle when breaks apart shortly after launch January 28.
  • Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, the Supreme Court finds that sexual harassment is a form of illegal job discrimination.


  • The U.S. Congress declares March as National Women’s History Month.


  • NASA awards a grant to SWE to encourage young women and underrepresented minority students to pursue careers in engineering through long-standing initiatives such as the Higher Education Outreach Program (HEOP), the Big Sister program, and NASA Space Camp.
  • The first offshore SWE national convention is hosted by the SWE Puerto Rico section in San Juan.


  • The first SWE Upward Mobility Award is presented to Dr. Edith W. Martin, Vice President of Boeing Aerospace and Electronics High Technology Center.


  • SWE has more than 13,000 members.


  • Dr. Elfreda Chang becomes the first recipient of the Resnik Challenger Medal in honor of Dr. Judith A. Resnik, NASA mission specialist and member of the ill-fated Challenger Space Shuttle. The medal was designed and sculpted by Arminta Harness, SWE past president.
  • 1964 Achievement Award recipient Admiral Grace Murray Hopper receives the National Medal of Technology.


  • The family issues committee releases the results of a survey of SWE members regarding their biggest concerns in managing childcare and their careers.


  • Achievement Award recipient Dr. Sheila E. Widnall is confirmed as Secretary of the Air
  • Force, the first woman to serve as an Armed Services secretary.
  • SWE publishes A National Survey of Women and Men Engineers: A Study of 22 Engineering Societies. It is the result of four years of work on the part of SWE’s statistics committee and the cooperation of 21 other engineering societies.
  • President Clinton signs the Family and Medical Leave Act.


  • Past president F. Suzanne Jenniches SWE member Patricia Eng testify before the United States Congress regarding the Society’s 1993 National Survey of Women and Men Engineers: A Study of 22 Engineering Societies and the Society’s position statement in support of the Gender Equity in Education Act (GEEA). The statement is distributed to members of Congress, other technical and professional societies, and to the media.
  • Dr. Grace Murray Hopper is posthumously inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


  • The Women’s Engineering Society in the UK celebrates its 75th anniversary.
  • Dr. Lillian Moller Gilbreth is posthumously inducted into National Women’s Hall of Fame.


  • The Census Bureau finds that women own one-third of all U.S. businesses, employing 26% of the nation’s work force.
  • Madeleine Albright is appointed the first female Secretary of State.


  • SWE and NSPE debut a 90-minute video and training session program, designed for engineering workplaces or professional or technical society meetings to raise awareness of the glass ceiling.
  • U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Claudia Kennedy is promoted to lieutenant general, making her the first female three-star general.


  • Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, NASA mission specialist, SWE senior member, and recipient of the SWE Resnik Challenger Medal, carries SWE memorabilia into space aboard a January Space Shuttle mission.
  • The U.S. Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development (CAWMSET) is established to research and recommend ways to improve the recruitment, retention, and representation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in STEM education and employment. Several SWE members and leaders later offer testimony to the commission.


  • SWE members convene with participants from academia, industry, engineering societies, foundations, and women’s organizations at the Summit on Women in Engineering in Washington, D.C. The summit is part of the Celebration of Women in Engineering project initiated by the National Academy of Engineering.


  • Sherita T. Ceasar becomes SWE’s first African-American  president.
  • General Motors and Saturn Corp. officials announce that Cynthia M. Trudell will become Saturn’s new president and the first woman to head a U.S. car company on January 1, 1999.


  • The Society has more than 14,000 members.
  • SWE, the Association for Women in Science, and the Women in Engineering Programs & Advocates Network jointly publicize the findings of the Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science and Technology (CAWMSET).
  • SWE works with National Engineering Week staff to create “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” on February 22
  • Dr. Beatrice Hicks, SWE’s first president, is posthumously inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


  • SWE Executive Director Betty Shanahan is a panelist at the Rayburn Office Building in Washington, D.C. during a roundtable discussion on “Advancing Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering – What Remains to be Done?” Other panelists included members of the U.S.House of Representatives and the executive director of  SECME.
  • 1993 Achievement Award recipient Dr. Sheila Widnall is inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


  • 1,000 SWE members join women in other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions in calling for the enforcement of Title IX.
  • SWE joins coalition formed by MentorNET to raise awareness of the issues of women in STEM.
  • SWE joins with other leading women’s organizations to respond to controversial remarks made by Harvard president Lawrence Summers at the “Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce: Women, Underrepresented Minorities, and their S&E Careers” conference.


  • In partnership with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), SWE issues the position paper “SWE General Position Statement on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education and the need for a U.S. Technologically-Literate Work Force.”  It is the first position paper to establish SWE’s outlook on issues that it deems are critical to educating policy makers.
  • SWE collaborates with Northrop Grumman Corp. to develop a legacy program, “Connecting Educators to Engineering” as first time National Engineers Week society sponsors.
  • On February 23, with co-host Northrop Grumman Corp., SWE holds a Congressional briefing on “Strengthening the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce – Connecting Educators to Engineering.”
  • Debuting on March 8 on International Women’s Day, SWE unveils a product of partnership with IBM aimed at K-12 girls.  “Develop, Design, Discover – Women Innovating with Technology” (3D WIT) encompasses a series of events throughout the US as well as a Web site to attract more young women to engineering.  SWE also launches its “Wow! That’s Engineering” program.
  • The ExxonMobil Foundation presents to SWE a $1 million grant to support education programs.


  • SWE, with co-hosts Northrop Grumman, held a congressional hearing Febrruary 23 on “Strengthening the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce – Connecting Educators to Engineering.” The briefing highlighted the overall need to improve STEM education in America’s schools, as well as how professional societies are reaching out to educators, counselors, and K-12 students to improve K-12 STEM education.


  • SWE’s membership tops 20,000.
  • Dr. Eleanor Baum, the first female dean of a college of engineering in the United States, is inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
  • SWE participates in a roundtable held at the National Academy of Engineering, discussing gender equity in STEM fields and Title IX.
  • The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education publishes the report Title IX at 35, to which SWE contributes.
  • SWE publishes a 6-part series in SWE Magazine, discussing the results of the SWE National Survey about Engineering, which was commissioned in 2005.
  • SWE serves as program chair for the World Federation of Engineering Organizations Global Colloquium for Women in Engineering and Technology, held in Tunisia.
  • Peggy Layne, SWE past president, testifies before the House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education, Life-long Learning, and Competitiveness about the use of Title IX to increase the participation of women in STEM fields.
  • SWE Director of External Affairs Semahat Demir moderates the inaugural briefing of the Congressional Diversity and Innovation Caucus.
  • SWE holds a congressional briefing titled “The Leaky Science and Engineering Pipeline: How Can We Retain More Women in Academia and Industry?”


  • SWE co-sponsors a congressional briefing, STEM Education, Girls, and the Challenges That Follow: From the Classroom to STEM Careers.
  • SWE sends three representatives, Cathy Pieronek, Peggy Layne, and Melissa Carl, to Washington, D.C. for Congressional Visits Day.  The SWE representatives spoke to congresspersons and congressional staff to discuss Title IX issues and legislation.
  • Kristina Johnson, 2004 SWE Achievement Award recipient, becomes the first woman to receive the John Fritz Medal from the American Association of Engineering Societies, the highest award in the engineering profession. Another SWE Achievement Award recipient, Yvonne Brill, receives the Fritz Medal the following year.


  • SWE holds a congressional briefing in conjunction with the House Diversity and Innovation Caucus, “The Dearth of Women in Academic Science and Engineering”
  • SWE member Barbara Bogue testifies before the House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education during a hearing titled “Encouraging the Participation of Women in STEM Fields.”
  • SWE government relations chair Cathy Pieronek is a panelist in a congressional briefing sponsored by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, titled “STEM Education: How Gender Bias Hurts Girls, Boys, and U.S. Competitiveness.”
  • President Obama signs the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which allows victims of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer within 180 days of their last paycheck. The Act is named after a former employee of Goodyear who alleged that she was paid 15–40% less than her male counterparts.


  • SWE has over 18,000 members.
  • SWE takes the lead in organizing the 2010 “Diversity and Inclusion Fuels Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)” Capitol Hill Day.
  • SWE signs a memorandum of understanding with the Japan Women’s Innovative Network .
  • Approximately 80 volunteers from Region E staffed a booth on the National Mall at the nation’s first USA Science and Engineering Festival, which drew around 500,000 attendees


  • Funded by a National Science Foundation grant, SWE partners with NSBE, SHPE, and AISES to hose the 4∆ workshop “Together, Let’s Put Engineering Within Reach of All Girls.”
  • President Barack Obama presents SWE Fellow and Achievement Award recipient Yvonne Brill with the 2010 National Medal of Technology and Innovation at a ceremony at the White House.

Related content:


  • SWE Blog

    SWE Blog provides up-to-date information and news about the Society and how our members are making a difference every day. You’ll find stories about SWE members, engineering, technology, and other STEM-related topics.