Hypatia a of AlexandriaAl Ale is generally thought to be theheh wo wor world’s first female engineer, or at least t the ef first recorded practitioner, and that was as backba in 400AD. Since then there have b be been several more of note, such as AdaAd LovelaceL who collaborated with Charles Babbage on his analytical engine; Hertha Marks Ayrton (1854–1923); Kathleen McNulty (1921–2006), Alice Perry ( graduated 1908;) Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu ( graduated 1912); and Ellen Swallow Richards ( graduated MIT in 1873).
It will be astounding to many young women these days that engineering wasn’t even a career choice for girls in the not too distant past and for no particular reason except that was just the way it was. Of course, it was not only engineering that wasn’t open to girls, and I myself have a friend who was expected to leave her banking job when she married because her new husband worked at another banking group. There was no question that he should leave his job, but a requirement that she left hers.
Things change, thankfully, and this month we welcome a new columnist, Claire Parker, who has just begun her engineering degree at the University of Auckland. Parker’s column is not about being a female engineer – but, who knows, maybe there will be issues around that – but about being an engineering student today.