Girls Coming to Tech!

GIRLS COMING TO TECH! A History of American Engineering Education for Women is the culmination to the research undertaken by Amy Sue Bix, who  Associate Professor in the Department of History at Iowa State University. Beginning in the late 1800s, it covers the years of WWII and up to the present. It is packed with information – hard research and anecdotal evidence. It covers those women, like Emily Roebling, whose husbands might have been taken ill or died, so that their wives had to take over a business. She completed his work on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. There is Edith Griswold who , in 1880, took a course in engineering in New York so she could set up her own company drafting the drawings for patent applications. Then there are all those women who helped with the war effort – as mechanics on the production lines in munitions factories and the qualified engineers who worked on the design of the machines of war. These women included some who worked on the Manhattan Project. Hollywood grabbed and glamorised  Rosie the Riveter’s  image. But immediately after the war women were pushed out of the work roles and all the freedoms, back home, their previous lives deemed unfeminine. Gradually,  women have been accepted onto engineering courses, but even in the 1970s they encountered sexism and discrimination. Some claimed that women’s voices should not be heard in the lab. Even so, about 25% of undergraduate engineers in the USA are women. No doubt it is a similar number in the UK.

GIRLS COMING TO TECH! A History of American Engineering Education for Women.

Amy Sue Bix. MIT Press 2013. ISBN 978-0-262-01954-5 HB. 360pp


About Deborah Jaffe

Deborah Jaffé is a cultural and design historian and the author of Inegnious Women (2003). She has special interests in the history of industrial design, technology and innovation; childhood, play and toys; memory studies and souvenirs. Her other published books include The History of Toys and Victoria - a celebration and she is the editor of NewcomenLinks, for Newcomen, the International Society for the History of Engineering and Technology. More at:

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