Happy International Women in Engineering Day! Here are 10 Awesome Women Engineers in History
A highly acclaimed software engineer and advocate for women, at only 29, Tracy Chou has taken the engineering world by storm when it comes to women in engineering, and rights in the workplace. She’s best known for her work to push companies to publicly show how many women engineers they really employ. Her professional experience is just as impressive as her advocacy work, her resume includes top companies like Pinterest, Quora, Rocket Fuel, Google and Facebook. She’s a well-known force for women in engineering and a “rising-star” in her field, she’s definitely one to watch in years to come.
Born in the Dominican Republic in 1920, Margot was the daughter of two French immigrants. In 1948, she earned her degree in Engineering and Architecture from what is now called Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. Taulé became the first female registered professional engineer in the Dominican Republic. Her talents in structural engineering led her to create the building that now houses the Dominican National Congress. Later in her career, she became a professor and eventually even the President of Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena, a position she held until 2005.
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Cristoforetti is best known for having a striking social media presence 250 miles above Earth, from space. Her experience as an Italian Air Force pilot and mechanical engineer led her to be the first female astronaut from Italy. She moved into the space station for 6-months and documented it all through her Twitter account, racking in over 950k followers. Until June of 2017, she held the record for the longest single space flight by a woman, but can still be known as the first person who brewed an espresso coffee in space.
“Coffee: the finest organic suspension ever devised.” Fresh espresso in the new Zero-G cup! To boldly brew… pic.twitter.com/Zw2CllJgzF
— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 3, 2015
Former CEO and president of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer, has an impressive track record when it comes to work experience. In 1999 she joined Google as their 20th employee and the company’s first female engineer. She started at Google by writing code and overseeing a small team that would develop and design Google’s search offerings. Marketers have her to thank for Google Adwords, she was on the three-person team to create the algorithm. She worked her way up the Google corporate ladder and held multiple roles, eventually stepping down and becoming the CEO of Yahoo! These roles have ranked her as the Fortune’s 16th most-powerful businesswoman in the world, and to think it all started with a background in software engineering.
Hedy Lamarr was born in Austria-Hungary and started her film career in Germany in 1933. In 1938 she was discovered by a talent scout and moved to Hollywood where she became famous for roles in Joan of Arc, Sampson and Delilah and White Cargo. But, Lamarr quickly became bored with repetitious roles and a lack of lines in scripts, so she took up inventing in her free time. She was a self-taught inventor and developed a large interest in aerodynamics. This came in handy at the time because engineers were looking for more ideas during World War II. Her innovations were eventually used in designing aircraft wings and radio-controlled torpedoes.
Starting as a computer at NASA, Jackson eventually became NASA’s first African-American female engineer. By 1958 she had dedicated her life to taking advanced Engineering classes and fighting to be accepted into an engineering position despite her race or sex. Her hard work paid off and after 34 years of engineering, she earned the highest title of engineers at NASA. She moved to the office side of NASA and became an administrator in the Equal Opportunity Specialist field where she continued the fight for minorities to have equal opportunities in STEM fields. In 2016, her story was portrayed in the movie, Hidden Figures, by actress Janelle Monáe.
She has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and goes down in history as the second female astronaut in space and the first Jewish American in space. With her big hair and playful attitude, Dr.Resnik caused some buzz when being viewed as an astronaut on screen by the American people, since so many at the time were accustomed to seeing toned men in the space suits. Her first spaceflight was aboard the Discovery where she spent six days in space. She was one of the seven brave crew members aboard the Challenger which exploding during launch, leading to her death on January 28, 1986. She goes down in history as someone who knew their job had the risk of death but was brave enough to risk it all to explore the heights of space and the limits of gravity.
Shilling’s love for engineering goes back to when she got her first motorcycle and taught herself how to dismantle and rebuild every part of her Royal Enfield engine and body, it was then when she became fascinated with engineering and physics. She turned her passions into a career by becoming a British aeronautical engineer and motor racer. She goes down in engineering history by inventing “Miss Shilling’s orifice,” a fix for the Rolls-Royce engine. She never got away from racing or engines, she continued to race motorbikes in the 30s and after the war moved on to race cars.
Nora Stanton Barney
Nora Stanton Barney came from a long line of women’s rights activists. She was the granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and daughter of Harriot Stanton Blatch. Nora studied at Cornell University and became the first female in the US to earn a degree in Civil Engineering. She also became the first woman to be admitted as a member (with junior status) of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She continued taking courses in electricity and mathematics at Columbia University. She worked in many important industries such as the New York City Board of Water Supply, the American Bridge Company and even became the Chief Draftsman at the Radley Steel Construction Company. In her later years, she grew very interested in politics and took up the role of president of the Women’s Political Union in 1915, the position her mother had held. She continued the fight for suffrage and an Equal Rights Amendment while working as a real estate developer.
Guyot was a French Engineer who started out as a teacher. In 1917, she discovered that the Ecole Centrale of Paris was opening its doors to females, so she resigned from her teaching position and enrolled. After graduating in 1921, she specialized in the field of aerodynamics and aircraft technology. Her blossoming career was cut short after being arrested by German forces during World War II. Sébastienne Guyot was awarded the Medal of Resistance after her death and scholarships are given in her name to cover the costs of students during their studies at Ecole Centrale.
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