'Girls Coming to Tech!' A History of American Engineering Education for Women

Thursday, February 2, 2017

5:30 pm

Room 101x, Paul Allen Center for Integrated Systems Annex (Allen-X) Map

Sponsored by:
WISE Ventures, Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity & Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education; co-sponsored by EAST House, and student organizations SWE, WEE, & GradSWE.

Engineering in the United States was long regarded as masculine territory. For decades, women who studied or worked in engineering were popularly perceived as oddities, outcasts, unfeminine, or inappropriately feminine. Amy Bix tells the story of how women gained entrance to this traditionally male world, starting with a handful who entered engineering colleges in the late 1800s. During World War II, government, employers, and colleges recruited women to train as engineering aides, but in the 1950s, women still comprised less than one percent of engineering students. Postwar pressures for change pushed all-male Georgia Tech and Caltech to become coeducational, while MIT and other schools gradually accepted more female undergraduates. Gender-related tensions continued to make engineering a challenging choice for many women. Yet today's young women take it for granted that they have the right to explore technical interests, the right to enroll in the nation's most prestigious engineering and science schools. Amy Bix explains how and why these hard-won gains occurred, permanently reshaping American college education, engineering, and science.

About the speaker: Amy Sue Bix is Professor of History at Iowa State University and director of ISU’s Center for Historical Studies of Technology and Science. Her book ‘Girls Coming to Tech!’: A History of American Engineering Education for Women was published by MIT Press in December, 2013. That work analyzes the story of how women gained entrance to the traditionally male field of engineering in American higher education, looking at both individual experiences and institutional evolution. Her book explores the history of female engineering students before and during World War II, as well as three detailed case studies of postwar engineering coeducation, at Georgia Tech, Caltech, and MIT. In 2015, Girls Coming to Tech won the Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize from the History of Science Society, awarded every other year in recognition of an outstanding book on the history of women in science. Bix has also published a number of articles, book chapters, and essays connected to her specialty in the history of women and gender in science, technology, and medicine. Her subjects include the history of gender and alternative medicine, breast cancer and AIDS research funding, gender and the body in Islamic culture, gendered consumerism and home repair, and the history of female aviators, physicians, and home economists. Bix also publishes more broadly in the history of science, technology, and medicine. Her book Inventing Ourselves Out of Jobs?: America's Debate over Technological Unemployment, 1929-1981 appeared with Johns Hopkins University Press in 2000. She co-authored The Future is Now: Science and Technology Policy in America Since 1950 with Alan Marcus (Humanity Books/Prometheus Press, 2007). Bix has also published on the history of eugenics, post-WWII physics and engineering, and steampunk culture. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Room 101x, Paul Allen Center for Integrated Systems Annex (Allen-X) Map

Open to all interested. Advance registration requested due to limited seating: Please register here.


Lecture / Reading Engineering Women / Gender Careers 

General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni/Friends
650.725.4747, cbmuller@stanford.edu
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