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L/3.3‘254

PROFESSIONAL
ENGINEERING

Employment
Opportunities
for Women

WOMEN’S BUREAU
BULLETIN
NO. 254

no.

Z5‘t

U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, James P. Mitchell, Secretary

WOMEN'S BUREAU,
http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/Alice K. Leopold, Director
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The value of engineering and engineering education in securing this
peaceful world cannot be overemphasized. The engineer has made
many contributions in developing our national economy and our
military preparedness program. In our highly complex technological
society, the engineer is the creator of our modern tools of production.
His efforts are largely responsible for America’s great productive
capacity and industrial superiority.
—Dwight D. Eisenhower




UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
James P. Mitchell, Secretary
WOMEN'S BUREAU
Alice K. Leopold, Director

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
FOR WOMEN IN

PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

Women’s Bureau Bulletin No. 254

U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1954

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U, S. Government
Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. Price 20 cents







LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
United States Department op Labor
Women’s Bureau,

Washington, March 31, 1954.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit a new bulletin which reports upon
current trends and attitudes relating to women’s prospects for the
engineering career.
A report on women engineers was stimulated in part by the procure­
ment of occupational data from the 1950 Census, together with
information obtained through a survey conducted by the Society of
Women Engineers and made available to the Women’s Bureau. The
main purpose of such a report at this time, however, is to provide
information in answer to the increasing number of inquiries raised by
counselors and students about the outlook for women in a field where
men are presently very much in demand.
This bulletin was prepared by Lillian V. Inke, Chief of the Employ­
ment Opportunities Branch, and Mildred S. Barber, who did the basic
research. Substantial help with Census and Society of Women
Engineers’ survey data was provided by the Bureau’s Statistical
Branch. Both Branches are part of the Research Division, of which
Mary N. Hilton is Chief.
Respectfully submitted.
Alice K. Leopold, Director.
Hon. James P. Mitchell,
Secretary of Labor.




in

Acknowledgments . . .
are made to several organizations and agencies for assistance in the
preparation of this bulletin, specifically:
(1) The National Society of Professional Engineers, for their technical
review of the manuscript;
(2) The Society of Women Engineers, for substantial assistance with
materials and for review of the bulletin draft;
(3) The U. S. Office of Education, for supplying detailed information
on educational requirements and institutions;
(4) For their courtesy in providing the photographs used in this
report, acknowledgment is made to the Chrysler Corporation (figs.
3-b and 5); Illinois Institute of Technology (fig. 2); Lockheed
(fig. 6); Sylvania Products, Inc. (fig. 3-a); Miller Co., Chicago
(fig. 4); and Westinghouse (fig. 1).
IV




i

CONTENTS
I. Engineering manpower and women’s prospects;____________________
Women are singled out in 1953____________________________
Engineering manpower a priority
The short-lived engineering “surplus” prediction of 1949_______
Engineers in war and peace _
New work in both known and unexplored fields_______________
Forecast in 1954____________________________________________

Page

4
1
1
1
2
3
4

II. Is opportunity equitable?
_
Concerning the economic outlook
Traditional attitudes
Separating fact and fancy
Women’s mechanical aptitude__________________________
Women’s temperamental and physical suitability_________
The industrial environment
Training opportunities
Opportunities for professional status_____________________
Interrupted employment: A risk for employers of women__
In brief _________________________________________

4
4
4
5
5
6
7
7
9
11
44

III. Taking inventory
________________________________________
How many women professional engineers in 1950-53?__________
Women classified as engineers in 1950 census_____________
Contrasted with men engineers_________________________
Common-sense conclusions about the number of women___
.
Proportion of women to total___________________ ________
Women engineers today: Group traits _____
Facts from 1953 survey of the Society of Women Engineers. _
Usefulness of the Society of Women Engineers’ survey____
Some comparisons and contrasts
19
In summary______ _______
Specialization trends: Men and women_________ _____________

42
12
13
15
15
15
45
16
18

IV. Information for prospective women engineers_____________________
Early indications of aptitude
23
High-school preparation
24
Engineering training
25
Fields of specialization for women;___________________________
Sources of information___________________________________

21
21
23

26
26

Appendix _______________________________ ________________________
1. Occupational information for the student
29
Problems of job definition
29
Assistants or engineering aides_______________
Broad fields of engineering________________________ _______
Job combinations
31
Occupational references
31
2. Institutions offering undergraduate engineering curricula, October
1953----------------------------------------

32

Bibliography................. ............................... .............................................................

37




V

29

30
30

Figure 1.—Women Engineers Offen Attain Positions of Responsibility and
Achievement in Large Industrial Firms.
This Electrical Engineer Is Checking Construction of a Generator Against Her Design.




I. ENGINEERING MANPOWER AND WOMEN'S
PROSPECTS

Women Are Singled Out in 1953
■ . . There is no question at all but that more women should be enrolled in
our engineering schools. This is one of the ways of dealing adequately with
the present and potential shortages in this area.

This statement was made in November 1953 by the Director of the
Office of Defense Mobilization, Arthur S. Flemming, to representatives
of a large group of American colleges and universities. It was made,
not in a speech about opportunity for women, but as one of several
manpower policy suggestions to educators about the need for main­
taining an adequate supply in the Nation of professional and scientific
personnel.
Engineering Manpower a Priority
Early in World War II the manpower agencies of the Federal Gov­
ernment encouraged programs to assess the Nation’s specialized man­
power and to provide for a continuing supply. Toward this end, a
National Roster of Scientific and Specialized Personnel established in
1940 was utilized as a kind of perpetual inventory of specialized skills.
A succession of Government agencies carried responsibility for the
Roster until 1950, when it was taken over by the National Science
Foundation.
In 1951, a Committee on Specialized Personnel, under the Office of
Defense Mobilization, initiated new studies of manpower resources
and requirements, as a result of the demands of the Korean emergency
upon both the defense and civilian fronts. Among the occupations
named as essential in supply-and-demand forecasts from Pearl Harbor
until the present, engineers have been generally given priority atten­
tion in nearly all studies of manpower requirements. By 1953,
women were being specifically mentioned by a number of employers
and educators as a good potential source of necessary engineering
manpower, even though the threat of war had become less imminent,
and defense production cut-backs were in progress.
The Short-Lived Engineering “Surplus” Prediction of 1949
Except for a brief period following World War II, the outlook for
women engineers was probably more favorable in the decade 1940 to




1

2

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

1950 than at any previous time. In 1949, however, a number of
agencies issued reports forecasting an increase in the number of
engineering graduates which would more than adequately meet the
needs of an economy returning to peacetime production levels. It
was thought that the number of students currently enrolled in engi­
neering courses as a result of the wartime recruitment drives and
later, of expanded veterans’ training, would exceed the demand for
new engineers in a few years. At the same time, many people thought
that the leveling-off of production, which in the early postwar period
created some shifts and separations of personnel, would seriously
affect women’s opportunities in nontraditional careers such as engi­
neering. Large numbers of women left the labor market following
the war. The fact that among them were many women who had
been employed as draftsmen or scientific and engineering aides gave
the impression that an unfavorable trend for women was developing
in the field of professional engineering.
Actually, it is unlikely that experienced professional engineers,
either men or women, were very much affected by the production
changeover in the postwar years, although new graduates were less
in demand for a short while. Following the outbreak of the Korean
conflict in 1950, the cautious attitude toward the recruitment of
engineering students was immediately reversed, and the outlook for
engineers has remained optimistic ever since, even with the curtail­
ment of defense production following the close of hostilities in Korea.
Engineers in War and Peace
Clearly, the need for engineering manpower is not solely the result
of war or the threat of war, but arises out of the concept of the Nation’s
economy as based upon unlimited productive capacity. This con­
cept, in turn, creates industrial patterns that call for a continuous
search into practical applications of scientific discoveries.
Some industrial leaders believe that, although estimates of engi­
neering manpower needs must be based upon the predictable factors
of supply and demand, it would not be practical to try to set limits
upon the number of engineers that the Nation can use effectively.
First of all, there are natural limitations on the number of young men
and women who can, and wish to, undertake this career. More
important, however, the development of science and technology
depends upon a substantial supply of experienced engineers, and this
continually creates a demand for new entrants. For example, the
Fourth Quarterly Report in 1951, of Defense Mobilizer Wilson, while
it dealt with production quotas related to the “mobilization base,”
nevertheless recognized also the need for additional technical man­
power which grows out of increasingly complex machines and processes.




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

3

An example was given of the time required to design the B-47 bomber
in contrast to man-hours expended on the development of an earlier
model:
The B-47 jet bomber, now entering volume production, required 2 years for
design, 2 more years to reach test flight stage, and 2 more years to start
assembly line production. A B-47 is made up of some 72,000 parts exclusive
of nuts, bolts, and rivets. The B—47 requires 40 miles of wiring compared
to 10 miles for the B—29. A B—47 contains over 1,500 electronic tubes.
The wing skin must be tapered in thickness throughout its entire length
from five-eighths inch at the body joint to three-sixteenths inch at the wing
tip. The first B -47 plane required 3,464,000 engineering man-hours com­
pared to 85,000.man-hours for the first production model of the B-17.

Statements have been made by various aircraft engineers that the
engineering manpower required to produce jet airplanes is from three
to ten times as great as for other types of airplanes. In the United
States, the production of jet aircraft in volume for civilian passenger
service has not even begun. It can be expected that, if military
aircraft building is curtailed, manufacturers will turn to mass produc­
tion of new designs in turbo-propelled civilian airliners, a field in which
the British have already made considerable progress.
New Work in Both Known and Unexplored Fields
There are many phases of engineering in both known and unexplored
fields to be developed for civilian peacetime uses. Some of these
were suggested at the Mid-Century Conference on Resources for the
Future, which took place in December 1953 under the sponsorship
of the Ford Foundation. More than 1,400 representatives of indus­
try, labor, and scientific research, conservation experts, and Government
officials reported on progress and potential expansion in such fields as:
Urban redevelopment and reconstruction; the possibilities for creating
new textiles and products from wood and synthetic materials; exten­
sion of the Nation’s recreational and wildlife facilities; redirection or
adaptation of water resources, with consequent implications for
industrial power and agricultural production; new methods and
resources in relation to mineral extraction; and, finally, the unexplored
areas of nuclear energy and solar energy for power and heating
purposes.
On the basis of an industrial survey of 495 establishments in 1952,
the National Society of Professional Engineers predicted that peace­
time demands arising out of increasing mechanization in such pursuits
as food production and processing, the manufacture of textiles and
communications equipment would require a continuing supply of
engineering manpower. Their conclusions were expressed as follows:
“It was clearly evident from the reports [i. e., of 495 employers] that,
while the demand for engineers may decrease slightly in the near
296901—54-----2




4

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

future as our defense program begins to level off, the need for engineers
will be a continuing one at a high level as we maintain progress in
the various fields of human comfort.”
In the past, pessimistic observations have been made about the
displacement of manpower by machine-power. It has become
apparent, however, that manpower displacements because of techno­
logical progress are temporary, and that scientific advance creates
needs for additional manpower in high-level technical pursuits, as
well as among production workers. Against this background, the
engineer is of primary importance as the worker who transfers and
translates scientific discovery into practical uses. *
Forecast in 1954
Current forecasts of the job outlook for engineers describe the
prospects as excellent for both men and women. The number of
new engineering graduates is not expected to meet the estimated
demand for an average of 30,000 new engineers per year. Since many
of the new graduates of the next few years will doubtless enter the
Armed Forces, the shortage of civilian engineers is expected to con­
tinue for a number of years. As might be anticipated, women are
being encouraged to prepare for the engineering profession, in order
to ease the shortage or to become a part of the manpower resources
in this technical field.
II. IS OPPORTUNITY EQUITABLE?

Concerning the Economic Outlook
If the economic outlook changes for men engineers, it is likely to
change disproportionately in relation to women. When engineering
prospects are good for men, they are apt to be almost as good for
women; when they decrease for men, women’s opportunities in engi­
neering are likely to be curtailed more than men’s, out of proportion
to the total manpower need. This observation is based upon the
record of employment practices for occupations in which women
constitute a minority. In engineering, women comprise only about
1 percent of the total. In all types of nontraditional employment,
women must be prepared to meet this kind of situation, especially
when competition for jobs is sharp.
Traditional Attitudes
In 1952, wide circulation was given in a technical journal to a
training plan prepared by an engineering teacher whose stated objec­
tive was the encouragement of greater numbers of young women to
enter engineering and science courses. The plan proposed that




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

5

qualified young women be trained as subprofessional, rather than
as professional, engineers, in order to release the professional engineer
“for more important work in the Nation’s interest.” Among the
arguments to support the direction of young women into science
classes, the following comment was offered:
Women have certain inherent characteristics which stand them in good stead.
For instance, they are conscientious, they know how to use their hands,
they are careful about detail, and quite important, they are not adverse to
trying something new. Witness, for example, their proclivity to change
the furniture around in the house about every three days to see if they can
find a more efficient arrangement. This is exactly the procedure that our
research scientists use; that is, if you don’t know if something w'ill work or
not, try it and see. Quite often in scientific studies the going gets pretty
rough and girls, being more sensitive and nervous than boys, sometimes
become emotionally disturbed by overwork and the fear of failure. These
troubles, for the most part, can be solved by the strategic use of a few kind
words and a little human understanding. Girls will work their hearts out
for you if you handle them right, which usually requires nothing more than
a sincere interest in their welfare.1

These views were probably expressed in part to counteract the fears
of the timid employer or the school faculty member who has not had
experience with women engineers (or who, perhaps, could recall a
trying experience of some sort with a woman employee or student) ;
instead, they may raise doubts where none previously existed. The
statement illustrates, in addition, the kind of generalizations that
are apt to be made about women, generalizations which, because
rooted in tradition, tend to persist beyond the establishment of objec­
tive data which discredit them.
Separating Fact and Fancy
Facts about women’s suitability for nontraditional vocations such
as engineering, are often interwoven with threads of fiction or prej­
udice. The different kinds of questions involved are nevertheless
separable, and each may be dealt with appropriately, even if not
answered to complete satisfaction.
Women’s Mechanical Aptitude

It has been popularly assumed for many years that women have
certain inherent characteristics, among which mechanical aptitude is
lacking. Indeed, the volume of data accumulated in recent years
through psychological testing shows that boys excel as a group in
mechanical aptitude and girls in clerical aptitude. Notably, this
is true of the findings of the United States Employment Service
from the administration of the General Aptitude Test Battery to
thousands of school girls and boys. But the GATB has also demon1 Morris, Fred O. Plan for training women in engineering. Journal of Engineering Education 43:174-176,
November 1962.




6

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

Figure 2.—Engineering Schools Offer Opportunities to Qualified Women
Teachers.
An Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Is Shown Making Adjustments on
Apparatus Constructed for Research in Heat Transfer in Boiling.

strated that individual differences among boys and girls exceed group
differences. Furthermore, the tests do not distinguish between innate
or acquired characteristics, and the extent to which the differences
in many aptitudes between boys and girls may be matters of environ­
mental conditioning is not known.
Obviously, those women who find their way into mechanically
based careers are in the minority, but many of them exceed, individ­
ually, the average requirements for men. This is particularly true
of women engineers: There were very few women engineers between
1886 and 1940, but the proportion of outstanding women among
them was high. Similarly, of the cooperative engineering schools
replying to inquiries of the Women’s Bureau in 1953, a majority of
those that had women students enrolled reported that the women
were above the class average, scholastically.
Women’s Temperamental and Physical Suitability

The temperamental (or emotional) suitability of women for en­
gineering is a point on which there are no verifiable data, because
temperament cannot be measured. However, employer experience




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

7

with successful engineers, both men and women, shows that an indi­
vidual who has the temperament for engineering will test high in the
vocational proficiencies and aptitudes that can be measured. Thus,
since temperament cannot be separated from other personal qualifi­
cations, it seems fair to assume that personal qualifications as a whole
will include temperament.
Most professional engineering jobs are accomplished at a desk,
even in field construction work. Except for military service under
combat conditions, many engineering jobs require no more physical
exertion than wielding the compass and slide rule. Individual women
are known to work at jobs in which they test planes under exceedingly
hazardous conditions, or to climb into over-sized machinery to inspect
it. These women undertake such tasks by choice, and are undoubtedly
more physically fit to execute them than many men.
The Industrial Environment

Social obstacles confront women engineers. The engineer’s en­
vironment is predominantly men’s and the few women who enter
engineering must be acceptable to, and willing to work with men,
sometimes almost exclusively, even if self-employed as engineering
consultants. If a job sometimes requires a woman to work with
men crews in isolated areas, social custom tends to prohibit her par­
ticipation. In recent years, many employers, notably the Armed
Forces, have demonstrated that this problem can be resolved without
great difficulty. As the numbers of women increase, of course, the
social barriers diminish in importance. In this connection, an
employer can resolve his own doubts by employing more than one
woman engineer at a time.
Training Opportunities

Perhaps because of the predominantly men’s environment of
engineering schools, many women engineering aspirants have obtained
the impression that training opportunities for them are very limited.
The fact is that almost every course of engineering studies which is
connected with a coeducational institution admits women. Reference
is made to appendix 2, which lists accredited engineering schools.
It can be seen that there are an adequate number in all regions of the
country to accommodate women. Of course, some engineering
schools exclude women, just as some Liberal Arts programs do, and
universities are not always consistent in their admission practices
for the Liberal Arts and the specialized schools under the same
administrative roof.
It might be expected that cooperative engineering programs, which
provide for alternating periods of classroom study and paid employ­



8

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

ment related to the studies, are more restrictive to women students
than academic engineering courses. This, however, is not the case.
Among the 20 or so cooperative engineering programs conducted
in 1953 at well-established universities and college-level technical
institutes, 18 reported in a Women’s Bureau survey concerning thenexperience with, and attitude toward, women students. Eight of the
institutions had one or more women students in 1953, and another
eight indicated that they would be willing to accept qualified women,
even though several of these had never previously tried to place
women students. Only two appeared to be opposed to admitting
women, but there were indications that even they might be persuaded
to open their courses to individual women.
It is not always easy for the school with a cooperative program
to find suitable employment for its students, and five of the eight
schools which had women enrolled in 1953 reported that women
were especially difficult to place under the work-study plan. On the
other hand, three schools had no problem in finding employment for
women and were very encouraged about their experience with women
cooperative students.
Nearly all of the cooperative programs with women students,
including some which found that women created special problems
of placement, reported that their women students were usually
exceptional in scholarship. The majority of faculties reporting on
cooperative programs were very much in favor of encouraging larger
numbers of women to enter engineering training. A few respondents
in administrative positions expressed opposition to women, in con­
tradiction to the school policy of acceptance.
There were, in 1953, probably not more than 20 women enrolled in
cooperative engineer training programs, but this was not because of
admission restrictions. As a matter of fact, the cooperative schools
may have had some difficulty in filling their quotas for men as well
as women, partly because of the increasing emphasis in recent years
on the extension of the academic curriculum for engineers into the
humanities and arts. A similar trend is also noticeable in other
professional training, for example, medicine. (This is discussed a
little more fully in Section IV, “Information for the Prospective
Woman Engineer.”)
_
The total number of women enrolled annually in engineering schools
of all types indicates that women have hardly begun to take advantage
of the training opportunities open to them. In 1952-53, only 33
women obtained the first degree in engineering from United States
schools, 15 received the master’s degree, and 4 the doctorate. For the
1953-54 school year, a total of 816 women engineering undergraduates




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

9

were enrolled in 210 schools, contrasted with 170,909 men under­
graduates. Dropouts will further reduce this number.
Opportunities for Professional Status

With reference to the point of view that women, as a group, should
be trained in larger numbers primarily for subprofessional engineering
jobs—a position held by some training and manpower specialists (see
page 4)—the development of additional subprofessionals is unques­
tionably a sound and practical way to release professional engineers
for occupations which make greater demands upon their talents and
training. If the training plan for women is limited to this objective,
however, it defeats the goal of making the best possible utilization of
manpower resources; this would be neither to women’s interest nor
to the Nation’s.
At this stage of development of womanpower resources for engi­
neering, a limited approach is not necessary; it tends to discourage
the relatively few qualified young women who wish to study engi­
neering, and it may restrict opportunities for women graduates who
seek full professional status.
In this connection, the Committee on Specialized Personnel, of the
Office of Defense Mobilization, in its report of December 9, 1953,
takes the following position: “For the most part, the female graduate
[•i. e., in engineering and the sciences] has been held down as far as
advance in classification and remuneration is concerned. Such action
on the part of management is totally unrealistic, and in order to pro­
mote the development of our high potential of female scientists and
engineers, this unrealistic sex barrier must be broken.”
Case histories are available of women in industry who, although
fully qualified as professional engineers, have been relegated to sub­
professional or dead-end jobs. One large manufacturing firm, in a
letter to the Women’s Bureau in 1953, was laudatory about the pro­
ficiency of the women engineers on the staff but frankly pointed out,
at the same time, that advancement for women was restricted, as a
matter of policy.
On the other hand, many employers have adopted a nondiscriminatory policy. Women engineers appear to be acceptable particu­
larly to manufacturers of electrical and electronics equipment, and
in the aircraft industry. A survey made by the National Society of
Professional Engineers in 1951 reported, “The consensus is that
women engineers are well received where they are now employed.”
Among 495 employers (with 3,948 plants) represented in the NSPE
survey, 65 percent of the respondents stated that they would hire
women engineers if they were available; 45 percent had found it
“feasible” to use women engineers; and 23 percent had women engi­
neers on the staff.




10

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

Figure 3.—Women Chemical
Engineers Are Found in a
Variety of Industries.

nv

a. In Electrical Manufacturing,
Chemical Engineer (right) Works
on Fluorescent Tubes.

'% -,

mm

BbBbB

b. In Automotive Manufacturing, Chemical Engineer (above) Tests Motor Parts.




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

11

Interrupted Employment: A Risk for Employers of Women

One indisputable career barrier for women is founded upon the hard
fact that some women engineers may be poor risks financially. An
employer’s investment in on-the-job training for an engineer is much
greater than for most of his personnel; it has been calculated as high
as $10,000, by some firms. If a woman engineer resigns or leaves
employment for a long period because of marriage or home responsi­
bilities at the point where she has reached her peak of utilization in a
particular business or industry, her withdrawal not only inconveniences
the employer but strengthens the prejudice against women.
The Defense Mobilization Director, Arthur S. Flemming, recognized
the objections to interrupted work patterns of women in his address
before the Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities in
November 1953, when he encouraged the enrollment of women engi­
neers; he commented as follows:
It is true that, in many instances, women graduates of engineering schools
would work a while and then marry and raise their own families. For a
period of time they would not be available for engineering positions. But
later on in life they would be available. And in the event of an emergency a
large number of them would be willing to return to work even though it
called for real sacrifice on their part to do so.

Some employers have concluded that it is against their own interests
to establish policies which are prejudicial to women employees in
general because some women find it necessary to withdraw from
employment. A large electrical equipment manufacturer told the
Women’s Bureau in 1953 that it has maintained a nondiscriminatory
policy toward women for many years, and that the company program
has developed, and will continue to train, women professional engi­
neers to do the same work as men, despite the fact that some of them
may leave for marriage and family responsibility.
In Brief
Many more potential women engineers are in the population than
have taken advantage of training opportunities, as the women’s en­
rollment in engineering for 1953-54 indicates. Greater numbers of
them would undoubtedly consider the career if traditional attitudes
against women were relaxed. On the other hand, a number of women
prefer marriage to a career and some cannot manage both a career
and marriage after employment and training on the job. These facts
create a risk, and some employers who are willing to gamble on hiring
a woman engineer in a time of critical need may reject the idea as
production demands decrease, or may maintain a general policy of
under-utilization of women engineers.
The claim that women as a group are potentially better subprofes296901—64------3




12

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

sional than professional engineers is either an unjustified assumption,
or a compromise offered by employers who wish to avoid the risk of
developing women as full-fledged engineers.
It is in the national interest, not only for a continuing period of
partial mobilization, but also for the expansion of the country’s pro­
ductive capacity, to encourage qualified women to enter the engineer­
ing field.
Women themselves will continue, for some time to come, to carry
the major responsibility for development of equal opportunity in
engineering. Because they are so few in number, individual women
are likely to represent women engineers as a whole in the minds of
faculties and employers. Clearly, the standards for the training
and employment of women engineers are more exacting than for men.
As a result, a majority of successfully employed women are apt to be
outstanding in the field.
There is no doubt that equity in opportunity for women engineers
is not universally practiced. Most successful women engineers who
have achieved full professional rank have met some prejudices and
discouragement, but they tend to agree that the serious career barrier
must usually be confronted early during the school years. Katharine
Stinson, 1953 President of the Society of Women Engineers, believes
that the college engineering course constitutes a good screening process
for women, and that once the training requirements are met, the
problems of employment will not be so difficult. Some women
engineers go so far as to say that wherever cases of discriminatory
practice are found in industry, they are apt to be the result of problems
created in part by an individual woman: she may be “too overtly
aggressive” or she may find ordinary competition in this field too
difficult and be unable to meet it.
Counselors of women aspirants to the engineering career can do a
great deal by presenting frankly the complex facets of the problem of
equitable opportunity and relating them to the individual student.
The point where the vocational choice is being made is most appro­
priate to provide encouragement to the qualified and, at the same
time, to show that women’s career problems are somewhat different
from men’s, and not entirely a matter of vocational potential.
III. TAKING INVENTORY

How Many Women Professional Engineers in 1950-53?
A distinguished, but exceedingly small, number of women entered
engineering year after year from 1886 to 1940, when the total census
count of employed women engineers was 730. By 1950, the decennial
census reported 6,475 women employed as engineers, almost a ninefold




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

13

Figure 4.—Some Women Engineers Go Into Business for Themselves.
Mechanical Engineer Demonstrating a Turbine to Prospective Buyers.

increase in little more than the same number of years. However,
subsequent data, based upon a sample of the 1950 census tabulations,
point toward a need for modifying some of the early conclusions con­
cerning this remarkable expansion among women professional engineers.
Women Classified as Engineers in 1950 Census

Sample data from the 1950 census show that only 41 percent of
the women engineers had completed 4 years or more of college, and
about 17 percent did not have as much as 4 years of high school. It
is, of course, possible for an engineer to achieve professional status
without completing college; in earlier years, a number of men engineers
were self-educated and perhaps did not complete even a formal highschool course. In lieu of formal education, however, an engineer is
required to substitute for, or supplement, education with job experi­
ence. Therefore it is hardly possible for anyone without the formal
course of training to achieve recognition as a professional engineer
before reaching maturity. It would be even less likely7- today for
women to become professionally recognized engineers without sub­
stantial college background. A few women have arrived at the engi­
neering career after having prepared for some other vocation, but
usually in maturity and with a background which includes some college
education. Age, then, together with education, should provide some



14

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

reasonable basis for evaluating the professional status of the women
classified as engineers. A summary is presented on information on
age and education of women classified as engineers in 1950:
Table 1.—Estimate of Number of Employed Women Classified as Engineers, by Selected
Age and Education Groups, 1950
Age and education
Total women reported as employed 1
Women 20 years of age and over with 4 or more years of
Women 25 years of age and over with 1 to 3 years of college.
Women 20 to 24 years of age with 1 to 3 years of college. _
Women 20 years of age and over with 4 years of high school.
Women with less than 4 years of high school, or 14 to 19
years of age (1,142), or with years of school not reported
(245)
_____________ --- --

Number

Percent

6, 475

100

2, 650
975
170
1, 280

41
15
3
20

1, 400

22

1 Total number reported (6,475) is based on the full census count; all other numbers are based on a 20percent sample.
Source: U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 1950 Census of Population (unpublished
data).

It is extremely unlikely that the 1,400 women with less than 4 years
of high school or only 14 to 19 years of age, or the 1,280 women 20
and over with only 4 years of high school, are professional engineers.
The group of 170 who are 20 to 24 and have 1 to 3 years of college are
also in doubtful professional status. These three groups together
constitute a total of 2,850 women who are classified as technical
engineers, but who are probably engineering aides and technicians,
and not professional engineers.
In the next group of 975, or women 25 years of age or over with
education of 1 to 3 years of college, there may also be some subprofes­
sionals, particularly among those with only 1 year of college, but no
further information is available to show a breakdown of the educational
attainment. However, since these women were old enough (at least
25 years of age) to have had some qualifying work experience, it
would seem reasonable to identify them as professional engineers.
Of course, the remaining 2,650 women with 4 years or more of college
may be regarded as engineers with professional status. Thus, about
3,600 women can be identified as professional engineers in 1950,
three-fourths of them having qualified by college training and the
remainder partly by college training and partly by experience.




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

15

Contrasted With Men Engineers

In contrast to women, the men classified as engineers in the 1950
census were an older group, and their group educational attainments
were higher. Comparable sample data on education and age of men
show that the median age of 525,256 men classified as engineers was
38, while the median age of 6,475 women classified as engineers was
31 years. Further, 54 percent of the men had completed 4 years or
more of college as against 41 percent of the women. In view of these
facts, it is a fair assumption that a substantially greater proportion
of the men than women who were reported as engineers in 1950 were
professional engineers. Besides, there must have been a large number
of men who were not counted as engineers in 1950, although they
had professional rank in this field.
Many men engineers must have been reported in other occupational
classifications such as those covering high-income sales personnel
(wholesale or retail), executive and management jobs, classifications
composed of proprietors and owners (of various types of business,
including engineering firms), and possibly even in certain kinds of
scientific research or development. On the other hand, women
engineers who achieve professional status are much more likely to
describe their vocation in terms of the engineering classification,
regardless of the job combinations in which they work, or the kinds
of titles to which they may have transferred their engineering skills.
Common-Sense Conclusions About the Number of Women

In summary, then, it is practical to consider the total number of
men engineers reported as such in 1950 as close to the actual number
of men professional engineers. It is also a commonsense deduction,
in the absence of verifiable and accurate data, to estimate the number
of women engineers in 1950 at closer to 3,600 than to 6,475. The 1950
total of professional women engineers, therefore, instead of being
almost nine times the 1940 total of 730 women,2 was probably more
nearly five times that number. Both an examination of such detailed
data as are available and conjectures based upon occupational classi­
fication trends and practices support this conclusion.
Proportion of Women to Total

In relation to the total number of engineers, the proportion of
women, even at the census count of 6,475, was only 1.2 percent in
1950. If the number is cut to an estimated 3,600, as suggested by the
foregoing discussion, women engineers in 1950 comprised roughly 0.7
percent of the total. This is a doubling of the proportion of women
3 Compare with earlier reports based on preliminary 1950 census estimates; for example, in “Expanding
Occupational Opportunities for Women,” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, April
1953.




16

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

in relation to the total, over the 1940 Census. It indicates that women
have maintained a snail’s pace, in the 68 years of their engineering
advance up to 1950. Such a leap in progress, following the snail’s
pace of the previous half century, may indicate the beginning of an
accelerated trend for women in this field.
Women Engineers Today: Group Traits
It would be not only interesting, but helpful, to be able to make,
with complete confidence, a series of generalizations about the char­
acteristics and achievements of women professional engineers. Un­
fortunately, the 1950 census data present a number of difficulties, as
mentioned in the preceding discussion, and only meager information
is available from other sources.
To try to fill a gap in the information, the Women’s Bureau in 1953
undertook a cooperative project with the Society of Women Engi­
neers, to survey their membership, by assisting with tabulations from
questionnaires. Members of the SWE are women college graduates
in engineering, or women with a minimum of 6 years of paid engineer­
ing experience at a level equivalent to the training required of a
graduate engineer, and also women who, although they may have
degrees in related scientific fields, particularly architecture or the
physical sciences, have acquired, in addition, at least 2 years of engi­
neering experience at the professional level. Because the SWE had a
membership of only 300 or so at that time, it was considered useful to
add to the canvass of members an additional 300 on the SWE mailing
list, for the purpose of obtaining some facts about personal character­
istics, education, employment experience, geographical distribution,
age, marital status, and income.
Facts From 1953 Survey of the Society of Women Engineers

Of approximately 600 questionnaires sent out by the SWE, 264
replies were received and tabulations made by the Statistical Branch
of the Women’s Bureau. A summary of the findings is presented
here.
(1) Employment Status at Time of Survey
Almost four-fifths of the group surveyed were employed, and 9 out of 10 of
the women employed were working at full-time jobs.
(2) Geographic Region of Training and Current Employment
Of the women employed in the South, about 45 percent had received under­
graduate training in the South; of those employed in the West, 52 percent
had been trained in the West; 76 percent of those employed in the North
Central States had been trained there; and 86 percent of those employed in
the Northeastern States had done their preparatory work in the same region.




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

17

(3) Region of Undergraduate Training for SWE Group as a Whole
About three-fifths of the women questioned reported that they obtained
their undergraduate training in the Northeastern States. Less than 10 per­
cent of them secured training in the South. Seventeen percent were trained
in the North Central region, and 13 percent in the West.
(4) Level of Training—Graduate and Undergraduate
Ninety-seven percent of the women surveyed had attended college, and 83
percent of these had undergraduate degrees. About 36 percent had taken
some graduate work, and more than half of these had obtained at least the
Master’s degree. Nine women reported the acquisition of the doctorate
degree, and several more were working toward the doctorate.
Only 3 percent of the women either had had no college training or failed to
report training.
(5) Fields of Preparation for Engineering
About two-thirds of the women reported undergraduate training in an
engineering field. Another 27 percent took undergraduate specializations in
mathematics, science, or architecture. The remainder had either been
trained in such unrelated fields as language or political science, or failed to
report the type of training, or had taken no undergraduate work.
Of the graduate degrees obtained, half were in mathematics, physics, or
chemistry. The majority of the remaining graduate degrees were in
engineering fields and a few were unrelated to engineering.
As to the sequence of undergraduate and graduate work, all but three of the
21 persons with graduate degrees in engineering had taken undergraduate
work in engineering. Of 26 whose graduate degrees were in mathematics,
physics, or chemistry, 20 had obtained undergraduate degrees based upon
specializations in the same fields.
(6) Time Lapse Between Undergraduate and Graduate Degree
Of the 52 women with graduate degrees reported, 10 had earned the graduate
degree within 1 year of undergraduate work; 11 within 2 years; 14 wdthin 3,
4, or 5 years; and 15 within more than 5 years. (Two failed to report dates.)
(7) Time Lapse Between Degree and First Engineering Job
Eighty-one percent of the 207 women who supplied both the dates of their
college degrees and the date of their first engineering job had obtained this
job during the year (or period) of their attainment of the degree.
About a fourth of the women reporting had received their degrees prior to
World War II. However, 18 of these 47 women did not find engineering jobs
until, or after, the war period.
All except 18 of the 160 women who received their degrees in 1941 or later had
been employed in their first engineering job during the same year (or period)
as their graduation from college.
(8) Starting Salaries on First Engineering Job
Of the 144 women for whom the necessary facts were available, 15 percent
were employed in their first engineering jobs prior to 1941. For this small
group, four-fifths had a starting salary on this job of less than $2,000 a year.
Another 20 percent of the women obtained their first engineering jobs during
the war years, 1941 to 1945. Two-thirds of these women had a starting
salary of $1,500 to $2,500 a year,




18

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN
Thirty-five percent of the women reporting in the survey were employed in
their first engineering job between 1946 and 1949. Two-fifths of this group
had a starting salary of $2,000 to $2,500, and a similar proportion had start­
ing salaries between $2,500 and $3,500.
Of the 42 women who obtained their first engineering jobs betw'een 1950 and
1953, about a third had starting salaries of $3,000 to $3,500; and the earnings
groups of $2,500 to $3,000 and $3,500 or over each accounted for a fourth of
the women who secured their first jobs during this time..

(9) Current Salaries of Women Engineers Surveyed
Of the 193 women who reported salaries in their present jobs and length of
time on the job, 19 percent were earning less than $4,000. Half of these 37
women had been employed in their jobs for less than 2 years; and half of this
group were part-time workers. Only 11 percent of the women in this income
group had been in their jobs for 5 years or more.
Thirty percent of the women reporting salary and length of service in the
survey were earning between $4,000 and $5,000. About 15 percent of these
women had been in the jobs for as long as 5 years or more; but almost half
(48 percent) had been employed for less than 2 years.
The same proportion of women (25 percent) were earning between $5,000 and
$6,000 as were earning $6,000 or more. Over half of the women in the
income bracket $5,000-$6,000 had been employed for 2 to 5 years, a third
had been on the job for less than 2 years, and only 12 percent had served for
as many as 5 years. Almost half of the women earning $6,000 or more had
been employed for at least 5 years.
In summary: A fourth of the women reporting present salary and length of
employment were earning $6,000 or more a year; over half were earning
between $4,000 and $6,000; and about a fifth were earning less than $4,000.
Most of the part-time -workers were in this latter group. Less than a fourth
of the women reporting (22 percent) had been employed in their jobs for 5
years or more; two-fifths had been employed from 2 to 5 years, and slightly
less than two-fifths (38 percent) had been working at their present jobs for
less than 2 years.
(10) Age of the Group
The median age of women in the survey was 28.9 years. For the employed
group (four-fifths of the total) it was a fraction higher—29.3; and for the onefifth not employed at the time of the survey, a little lower—27.8 years.
(11) Marital Status
Of the currently employed women, 51 percent were single, 37 percent were
married, and 12 percent were widowed, divorced, or separated.
Among the very few- of those employed who were doing part-time work,
the majority were either single and still in school, or married with children
under 6 years of age.
Two-thirds of the employed women engineers who were married, widowed,
divorced, or separated had no children. Of the one-third with children, 3
out of 4 had children under 6, which might be expected in view of the low'
median age of the group.

Usefulness of the Society of Women Engineers’ Survey

Two objections can be raised with respect to the use of the SWE
survey as a basis for drawing conclusions about women engineers as




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

19

a group. First of all, the replies received represent a very small
proportion of the roughly estimated 3,600 women in the United States
with professional status in engineering and, therefore, may not be
truly representative of women engineers. In addition, the SWE is a
relatively new organization, having been incorporated in 1952 (al­
though organized meetings were held as early as 1949), and at the time of
the survey there was some concentration of membership in the north­
eastern part of the United States.
Nevertheless, the information obtained from the survey relates to
women whose professional engineering status is fairly well established
according to the usual standards of education: 91 percent had under­
graduate training in engineering or in the related fields of science,
mathematics or architecture; more than four-fifths had obtained
undergraduate degrees, and over one-third had graduate training.
Furthermore, according to the 1950 census the largest number of
engineers, both men and women, are employed in the Northeastern
States so that the geographical concentration of SWE membership is
consistent with the geographical distribution of employed engineers.
At a minimum, data from the 1953 survey are useful both for con­
sideration alongside of data from the 1950 census and for information
not revealed by census data. Despite its limitations, the kind of
information received from the survey is not available from any other
source. It is recognized, of course, that data from the Society of
Women Engineers’ survey are not statistically comparable with
census data on women engineers.
Some Comparisons and Contrasts

The median age of women classified as engineers in the 1950 census
was 31 years. This is 5 years lower than the median age for all
women workers in 1950. Only one other group of women at a com­
parable professional level, namely chemists, showed a lower median
age. Men engineers in 1950 showed a median age 7 years above that
for women. Young as the women engineers shown in the census
count were, those in the survey were even younger: employed women
engineers in the survey showed a median age of 29 years. Thus,
women engineers apparently are a remarkably young group. This is
not surprising, in view of the fact that the sizable increases in the
enrollment of women in engineering colleges took place only 10 years
ago, that is, during the period of World War II.
Correlated with the lower median age for women than men engi­
neers is the fact that a greater proportion of women engineers than
men were single. According to census estimates, approximately
one-third of women engineers were single, while only a little more
than one-tenth of men engineers were single. As in the case of age,




20

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

mj.

ig

Figure 5.—Automobile Manufacturers Employ Women Engineers.
Mechanical Engineer Tests Automobile Motor in Research Department.

the SWE survey underscores this characteristic, showing that, among
the survey respondents, about one-half were single.
It is interesting to note that the relative youthfulness of women
engineers reported in the SWE survey is reflected in the ages of their
children. Of the women with children, three out of four had children
under 6 years of age. These women, together with single women still
in school, were the ones working at part-time jobs. Of course, the



PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

21

predominance of single women and married women without children
in the survey is consistent with the fact that 9 out of 10 of the women
were employed at full-time jobs.
The great majority of women engineers in the SWE group appar­
ently had little trouble finding a job after having received their degrees.
Four out of five got their first engineering jobs almost immediately
after attaining their degrees, but some of those who received degrees
prior to World War II did not succeed in finding engineering jobs until
during or after the war. Of course, starting salaries were progres­
sively higher for those obtaining their first engineering jobs in the
period of the war and again after World War II than for those who
obtained engineering jobs prior to 1941.
At the time of the survey (early 1953) about half of the women
engineers who reported salaries in their present jobs were earning
$5,000 or more per year. Less than one out of five was earning under
$4,000 per year, and almost all of these women were part-time workers
or had been employed in their jobs less than 2 years. By contrast,
almost half of the women engineers who were earning $6,000 or more
per year had beeen employed at least 5 years.
Unfortunately, only a very limited amount of information is avail­
able on salaries for similarly selected groups of women in other pro­
fessions. However, nearly comparable data for women chemists and
psychologists indicate that the median salary of women engineers in
the survey—$5,306 per year—is as high or higher than median
salaries for these two groups.
In Summary
The woman professional engineer of today is more likely than the
average working woman to be single, a finding that might be expected,
in view of the fact that she is likely to be about 5 years younger.
She probably has acquired at least an undergraduate degree in engi­
neering, science, mathematics, or architecture and has had little
difficulty in finding an engineering job after graduation. If she works
full time at her job and has had at least 5 years of experience, she
probably earns more than $5,000 per year.
Specialization Trends: Men and Women
Broad indications of the occupational shifts and developments in
the various special engineering fields may be obtained on the basis of
census data for 1940 and 1950. As previously observed, the data
refer to engineering personnel of unverified professional status, and of
the 6,475 women workers counted in 1950, probably not more than
3,600 could be roughly estimated as professional, (See page 15.)
The accompanying table shows only the distribution of engineering




EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

22

personnel by sex, and the percentages for 1940 and 1950. Probably
two-fifths or more of the women shown in the 1950 distributions were
engineering aides, draftsmen, and engineering technicians. The dis­
tributions are nevertheless of interest in showing the proportions of
women to men and the fields which reflected shifts in numbers and
proportion during the decade.
Table 2.—Technical Engineers by Field of Engineering and Sex: 1950 and 1940
(Employed persons)
1940

1950
Engineering field
Women Total

Men

Total

Women

Men

NUMBER

Total,

525, 256 518, 781

___

Chemical
__
-Civil________
-Electrical---------------------------Industrial-. — ..
Metallurgical, metalli irgists,
and mining .Other engineers
Aeronautical
-MechanicalNot elsewhere classified--

6, 475 275, 325 274, 595

730

32,
123,
106,
40,

522
318
515
200

31,
121,
105,
39,

893
386
278
750

629 12,
1, 932 85,
1, 237 61,
450 11,

581
684
203
609

39
191
164
74

22,
200,
17,
110,
72,

105
596
635
164
797

21,
198,
17,
109,
71,

755
719
304
588
827

350 11, 063 10, 989
1, 877 92, 717 92, 529
0)
C)
331
«
(')
576
970
0)

74
188
(l)
0)
(*)

620
875
367
683

12,
85,
61,
11,

PERCENT DISTRIBUTION

Total-.

___

-

-Chemical____
Civil
Electrical _
------Industrial..
Metallurgical, metallurgists,
and mining---------------------Other engineers
Aeronautical-- _ — Mechanical
--- Not elsewhere classified..

100. 0

100. 0

100. 0

100. 0

100. 0

100.0

6.
23.
20.
7.

6.
23.
20.
7.

9.
29.
19.
6.

4.
31.
22.
4.

4.
31.
22.
4.

5.
26.
22.
10.

2
5
3
7

4. 2
38. 2
3. 3
21. 0
13. 9

1
4
3
7

4. 2
38. 3
3. 3
21. 1
13. 8

7
8
1
9

5. 4
29. 0
5. 1
8. 9

15. 0

6
2
3
2

4. 0
33. 7
(>)
(■)

6
2
3
2

4. 0
33. 7
0)
0)
0)

i Comparable detail not available for 1940.
Source: U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 1960 Census of Population.




3
2
5
1

10. 1
25. 8
(>)
C1)
(l)

PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

23

Civil engineering, in 1940 and again in 1950 according to the
decennial census reports, led the field in employing the largest num­
bers of engineering personnel, both men and women. There were,
however, some shifts in the relative importance of these and other
specializations. Chemical engineering and the group (“other engi­
neers”) which includes aeronautical and mechanical fields showed
increases in the number and proportion of workers, both men and
women, between 1940 and 1950, whereas the proportion of men and
women, engaged in electrical engineering showed some decrease.
Although these changes were proportionately small, they are never­
theless of interest as indicative of trends.
It can be seen that civil engineering alone (which is the largest single
specialization) increased in importance for women and decreased in
importance for men. A tenfold increase of women in civil engineer­
ing—which showed less proportionate growth during the decade than
any other field—provokes some speculation because traditionally
women have been considered less suited to this field than all others,
except mining.
One explanation of the sizable increase of women in civil engineering
in 1950 may he in the fact that almost half of all civil engineers work
for government agencies (Federal and other). Salaries for highly
skilled technical personnel in government agencies have not kept pace
with salaries in industry. It is possible that a number of men engi­
neers moved from government agencies into higher paying industrial
jobs during the decade 1940-1950, and that women found their way
into positions vacated by men. To what extent the increase of women
in civil engineering represents an influx of women engineers with
professional status is, of course, not known. Possibly many of the
women who entered this field in the period 1940 to 1950 were draftsmen
or engineering aides.
IV. INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE WOMEN
ENGINEERS

Early Indications of Aptitude
There is no sure way for a young woman to tell whether she would
make a good engineer or, for that matter, a good doctor or lawyer.
Persons with experience in the engineering field believe, however, that
there are certain clues to aptitude for engineering which may be
helpful to students considering the career.
A child may reveal engineering aptitude at a very early age by
interest in mechanical processes, such as building automobile ot air­
plane models, tinkering with radios, trying to find out how and,
especially, why mechanical things work the way they do and attempt-




EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

24

ing to make them operate better. Reading books and magazines on
scientific subjects, keeping up on new developments in science, visiting
places where mechanical things are built or repaired are also significant
indicators of engineering aptitude. In school work, the potential
engineer usually shows interest and ability in mathematics and science
courses.
Some of the criteria used by recognized colleges of engineering for
testing the qualifications of college entrants who wish to study
engineering are as follows: (1) an aptitude for, and preparation in,
mathematics; (2) an ability to visualize; (3) a knowledge of mechani­
cal movements and physical principles; and (4) a preference for
scientific or mechanical work.
Available on request at almost any State employment service office
is the General Aptitude Test Battery. This is of great assistance to
young women who wish to obtain an evaluation of their skills and
potential capacities for various kinds of work, including engineering.
The results of the GATB, as interpreted by the employment service
counselor, may be used both by the engineering candidate and her
school advisers. The GATB is given without charge, as a public
service.
High-School Preparation
Students interested in an engineering career should consult the
high-school counselor as early as possible regarding college-entrance
requirements and the proper selection of the high-school curriculum.
Mathematics and science courses are a “must,” and it is frequently
recommended that the full sequence in mathematics be followed.
Courses in solid geometry and technical drawing are important for
development of the ability to visualize, and courses in physics provide
a beginning knowledge of mechanical movements and physical
principles.
Colleges differ somewhat in their specific entrance requirements,
but the following list of high-school courses is illustrative of the
requirements for admission to a degree-granting engineering college:
English________________________________ ______________________
History or social studies----------------------------------------------------------Algebra---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Plane geometry----------------------------------------------------------------------Solid geometry-----------------------------------------------------------------------Science (with laboratory work)-------------------------------------------------Additional work in any of the above subjects--------- -------------------Other high-school subjects--------------------------------------------------------

Total




Units
^
1
^
1
^
1
3
4

15

PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

25

An extra unit of science (preferably physics or chemistry) and an
extra K unit, of algebra, plus }{ unit of trigonometry are strongly
recommended for the engineering student, but are not always required.
Since engineering is a field in which women are likely to find them­
selves “spot-lighted,” both in training and on the job, it is important
that the prospective woman engineer secure the kind of preparation
which will not place her at a disadvantage in relation to men
candidates.
Engineering Training
In years past, many engineers gained their engineering knowledge
by self-study and on-the-job experience (sometimes through an appren­
ticeship-type agreement with a practicing engineer) or were able
to enter the engineering field through training in a technical institute
or in related sciences, such as chemistry, physics, or mathematics.
Today, the number entering the profession without completing en­
gineering college training has been steadily growing smaller. Gradually
the educational level of the entire profession has been rising, and the
emphasis in recent years has been largely on the 4-year undergraduate
curriculum in accredited institutions granting engineering degrees.
(See appendix 1, “Occupational Information for the Student.”) Thus,
for women especially, the selection of an accredited school of engineer­
ing is of great importance. Persons trained at such schools generally
have the best employment opportunities. A list of institutions offer­
ing accredited curricula in one or more engineering specialties in 1953
may be found in the appendix, and current lists may be obtained
from the Engineers’ Council for Professional Development, 25-33
West 39th Street, New York 18, New York.
There seems to be some concern among leaders in the profession
about the lack of nontechnical and general knowledge on the part of
large numbers of engineers. As a result, the present trend is toward
including in the college curricula more nonengineering courses, such
as business administration, psychology, economics, English, social and
political sciences, and literature.
Because some educators feel that the addition of a wider range of
courses to the full program of technical and specialized engineering
subjects causes overcrowding of the undergraduate’s schedule, as this
requires the student to complete 5 or 6 years’ work in 4, some colleges
have moved toward the adoption of a 5-year engineering course for
the bachelor’s degree. In view of the variations in engineering train­
ing, even among institutions of the same type, the prospective engi­
neering student should consult with interested authorities, as to the
particular curriculum most suited to her needs. In this respect, the




26

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

Society of Women Engineers, 4 Washington Square North, New York
3, New York, through its Professional Guidance and Education
Committee, may be of assistance.
Fields of Specialization for Women
Despite the employment barriers commonly encountered in the past
by women engineers, there remains a relatively wide choice of employ­
ment for the college-trained engineer. There are individual firms in
almost every kind of industry which seem willing to hire qualified
engineers, regardless of sex. However, opinions vary as to whether
the newly graduated woman engineer will find the greatest oppor­
tunity for success and personal satisfaction in a specialization where
men have always predominated, or in specializations that can be
related to women’s interests.
Some experienced women engineers feel that women will do best if
they specialize in engineering related to such consumer products as
household appliances and equipment, textiles, clothing, and food;
that is, in fields where they have a natural advantage. On the other
hand, others, among them Katharine Stinson, President of the Society
of Women Engineers, and herself an aeronautical engineer, feel that
the woman engineer should pursue the specialty in which she has the
greatest interest, whether this be building bridges, aircraft design, or
highway construction. It is up to the individual woman to make the
choice in accordance with her own talent, vitality, needs, and interests.
Sources of Information
The woman engineer who is seeking a job will do well to consult with
engineering and placement officials at her university. Many firms
today go directly to the universities to recruit engineering talent, and
interviews with prospective graduates are arranged and supervised by
college authorities. Engineering societies, including the Society of
Women Engineers, can also be of help; their members are in daily con­
tact with developments in the engineering field. Engineers interested
in Federal employment should contact the nearest office of the U. S.
Civil Service Commission.
For some kinds of engineering work a person must be a “registered
engineer,” and registration laws have been adopted by all States.
The various States differ in requirements for registration, but in
general, the purpose of such laws is to insure that engineering work
which involves the safeguarding of life, health, or property shall be
done by qualified engineers. Detailed information on registration
laws and addresses of boards of examiners may be obtained from the
National Society of Professional Engineers, 1121 Fifteenth Street,
NW., Washington, D. C.




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

27

Figure 6.—Women Engineers Are Successfully Employed in Aircraft
Manufacturing and Aeronautical Control.
Aeronautical Engineer Examines Fittings Between Flap and Aileron to Determine
Whether They Meet Specifications.

Although there are more than 60 national engineering organizations
in the United States, and most of them accept women as members, only
one organization, the Society of Women Engineers, devotes itself
exclusively to the interests of women engineers. The Society of
Women Engineers was incorporated in the District of Columbia on
February 13, 1952. Its objectives are stated as follows:
To inform the public of the availability of qualified women for engineering
positions; to foster a favorable attitude in industry toward women engineers;
and to contribute to their professional advancement.
To encourage young women with suitable aptitudes and interests to enter
the engineering profession, and to guide them in their educational programs.
To encourage membership in other technical and professional engineering
societies, participation in their activities, and adherence to their code of
ethics.

Membership information and applications may be obtained on
request from the Society.
The major branches of engineering are represented by the following
national organizations:
American
American
American
American
American




Society of Civil Engineers
Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers
Society of Mechanical Engineers
Institute of Electrical Engineers
Institute of Chemical Engineers

28

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

All of these organizations are represented in the Engineers Joint
Council whose purpose is to correlate the professional aims and
objectives of these organizations and to act jointly for them in repre­
senting the engineering profession as a whole on matters of national
interest which affect professional engineers. Inquiries may be
directed to the Council at 33 West 39th Street, New York, New York.




APPENDIX
1. Occupational Information for the Student
Problems of Job Definition

The term ENGINEER applies to two different kinds of occupations,
one of which is professional, and the other, highly skilled but requiring
mainly the operation of machines and equipment.
Distinction is made between these two uses of the word ENGINEER
in the Department of Labor’s Dictionary oj Occupational Titles by the
following definitions:
(1) “ENGINEER (any industry) engineman. A general term used to
designate workers who operate various machines and equipment for the
production of power or to convert power from one form to another. May
be designated according to type of machines and equipment operated, as
POWERHOUSE ENGINEER I; REFRIGERATING ENGINEER;
STATIONARY ENGINEER.”
•

(2) “ENGINEER (professional & kindred). A general term used to designate persons who meet the educational, experience or legal qualifications
established by engineering schools or licensing authorities for the fields of
professional engineering. Classifications are made according to the field of
engineering specialization as CHEMICAL ENGINEER; CIVIL ENGI­
NEER; ELECTRICAL ENGINEER; INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER;
MECHANICAL ENGINEER.”

In practice, the distinction is usually made easily between the
operator of equipment and the professionally trained person. The
operator is essentially a very highly skilled mechanic. The profes­
sionally trained engineer is expected to understand the principles
governing development of operation and design.
If, however, the operator becomes a supervisor of other operators
and adds increasingly more theory to his practical knowledge, the
distinction between him and a professional engineer becomes narrow
and may disappear. In fact, many professional engineers began their
careers with a minimum amount of theoretical training and sometimes
with little or no college training; they added to their knowledge of
basic sciences and scientific principles through self-teaching while
obtaining practical engineering experience on the job. The proportion
of professional engineers trained in this way was large in earlier years.
It is still possible today for many kinds of professional engineers
to achieve career recognition without a course of engineering study in
advance of employment, but it is more difficult because of the increase
in theoretical knowledge and the complexity of technical processes.
It is not uncommon for a college graduate in mathematics or basic
science specialization to enter engineering as a result of applying these
skills on the job.



29

30

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

A distinction may also be made very easily between a skilled
mechanic and a professional engineer who spends full time on
theoretical concepts such as working with mathematics, the principles
of physics, or the development of production formulas. This kind
of engineer usually has no need to use applied mechanical skill, no
direct contact with the product on which the work is done, and perhaps
even a limited practical interest. Another kind of difficulty arises,
however, in distinguishing between the professional engineer assigned
to theoretical problems, and the worker classified as subprofessional
engineer, or engineering aide or draftsman who may be doing almost
the same kind of work. In most cases, the levels of skill, proficiency
and responsibility are clearly differentiated, but there are borderline
cases.
Assistants or Engineering Aides

In the course of time, a growing number of specializations have
developed in professional engineering, both at the top level and the
assistant, or aide, level. The general pattern among engineering
occupations, particularly in industries characterized by large-scale
manufacturing, where a multiplicity of detailed specifications is
required for a single product, is to assign a professional engineer and a
crew of aides and technicians to a narrow division of the total pro­
duction process. Each of the assistants works on a large volume of
repetitive detail of design or blueprints and does a small part of the
overall job.
A second group of assistants may be established at a lower skill
level, if jobs at the direct assistant level lend themselves to breakdown.
These jobs may be classified as scientific aides or technicians and often
involve a great variety of job duties in connection with a manufactur­
ing or laboratory process.
Sometimes difficulties of job evaluation and classification arise
between the direct engineering assistants or aides and the technicians,
particularly in new fields or those undergoing change and expansion,
such as electronics, chemical processes (a wide range), ceramics and
others. It should be kept in mind, in this connection, that job titles
in themselves are not descriptive. Moreover, jobs change as workers
themselves develop new skills in them, often somewhat in advance of
standards and methods which have been established to classify and
evaluate the work.
Broad Fields of Engineering

The 1950 Census lists eight broad divisions of engineering:
Chemical
Civil
Electrical
Industrial




Metallurgical and metallurgists
Mining
Aeronautical
Mechanical

PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

31

Each of these may include subdivisions. For example, petroleum
engineering may be considered as a part of chemical engineering when
it involves the processing of petroleum, and as part of mining if it
involves the extraction of the crude oil. Ceramic engineering is
generally classified as belonging to the chemical field, but if it con­
tinues to expand, it may become a division in itself. Similarly, elec­
tronics is properly a part of the electrical field, but has expanded to
the point where it is often treated separately.
Engineering terms present difficulties for the nontechnical observer
because of the complex organization of industry. For instance, the
division of aeronautical engineering, strictly speaking, involves the
design and function of aircraft. The aircraft manufacturing industry,
however, employs a range of engineering experts who work in all of
the eight broad divisions. To classify an engineer, then, it is necessary
to know the specialization or, better, the exact job assignment.
Job Combinations

In addition to all the specializations that have developed in the
broad fields of engineering, there are many combinations of professional
engineering and other skills. Among the most commonly found com­
binations are those which utilize the engineer’s basic training and
experience in sales or purchasing, in technical writing, and in careers
involving principally the administrative or management function.
The sales or purchasing engineer is employed when the merchandising
situation requires a high degree of technical training, particularly in
the marketing of machinery, chemical substances, or industrial
equipment. Publishers of engineering journals prefer to employ
editors and writers who are engineers. And the industrial engineer
often reaches the career peak in the management of large or complex
operations.
Occupational References

A fuller treatment of occupational definitions of, and training for,
engineering may be found in these Department of Labor publica­
tions: “The Dictionary of Occupational Titles” of the United States
Employment Service; Bulletin 968, “The Employment Outlook for
Engineers” and Bulletin 1131, “The Employment Outlook for Tech­
nicians,” both published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.




2. Institutions Offering Undergraduate Engineering Curricula Accredited by
the Engineers’ Council for Professional Development
(Official Accrediting Agency for Engineering Colleges)

October 1953
Alabama
Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn
University of Alabama, University
Alaska
University of Alaska, College
Arizona
University of Arizona, Tucson
Arkansas
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
California
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena 1
Stanford University, Stanford University
U. S. Naval Post Craduate School, Monterey
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara 1
University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Colorado
Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College, Fort Collins
Colorado School of Mines, Golden 1
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Denver, Denver
Connecticut
U. S. Coast Guard Academy, New London 1
University of Connecticut, Storrs
Yale University, New Haven2
Delaware
University of Delaware, Newark
District of Columbia
Catholic University of America, Washington 1
George Washington University, Washington
Howard University, Washington
Florida
University of Florida, Gainesville
Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
Hawaii
University of Hawaii, Honolului,
i,2, see p. 36.

32



PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

33

Idaho
University of Idaho, Moscow
Illinois
Bradley University, Peoria
Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago
Northwestern University, Evanston
University of Illinois, Urbana
Indiana
Purdue University, Lafayette
Rose Polytechnic Institute, Terre Haute 1
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame 1
Iowa
Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Ames
State University of Iowa, Iowa City
Kansas
Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, Manhattan
Municipal University of Wichita, Wichita
University of Kansas, Lawrence
Kentucky
University of Kentucky, Lexington
University of Louisville, Louisville
Louisiana
Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, Ruston
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton
Rouge
Tulane University of Louisiana, New Orleans 3
Maine
University of Maine, Orono
Maryland
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore 1
University of Maryland, College Park
Massachusetts
Harvard University, Cambridge2
Lowell Technological Institute, Lowell
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
Northeastern University, Boston
Tufts College, Medford 3
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester1
Michigan
Michigan College of Mining and Technology, Houghton
Michigan State College, East Lansing
University of Detroit, Detroit
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Wayne University, Detroit
*,*,s, see p. 36.




34

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

Minnesota
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Mississippi
Mississippi State College, State College
University of Mississippi, University
Missouri
Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, Rolla
Saint Louis University, St. Louis
University of Missouri, Columbia
Washington University, St. Louis
Montana
Montana School of Mines, Butte
Montana State College, Bozeman
Nebraska
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Nevada
University of Nevada, Reno
New Hampshire
Dartmouth College, Hanover 1
University of New Hampshire, Durham
New Jersey
Newark College of Engineering, Newark
Princeton University, Princeton 1
Rutgers University, New Brunswick 3
Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken 1
New Mexico
New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, State College
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
New York
Alfred University (New York State College of Ceramics), Alfred
Clarkson College of Technology, Potsdam 1
College of the City of New York, New York
Columbia University, New York
Cooper Union, Newr York
Cornell University, Ithaca
Manhattan College, New York 1
New York University, New York
Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, Brooklyn 1
Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy
Syracuse University, Syracuse
Union College and University, Schenectady 1
University of Rochester, Rochester
Webb Institute of Naval Architecture, New York 1
see p. 36.




PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING

35

North Carolina
Duke University, Durham 3
North Carolina State College, Raleigh
North Dakota
North Dakota Agricultural College, Fargo
University of North Dakota, Grand Forks
Ohio
Case Institute of Technology, Cleveland 1
Fenn College, Cleveland
Ohio State University, Columbus
Ohio University, Athens
University of Akron, Akron
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati
University of Dayton, Dayton
University of Toledo, Toledo

.

Oklahoma
Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, Stillwater
University of Oklahoma, Norman
University of Tulsa, Tulsa
Oregon
Oregon State College, Corvallis
Pennsylvania
Bucknell University, Lewisburg
Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh
Drexel Institute of Technology, Philadelphia
Lafayette College, Easton 1
Lehigh University, Bethlehem 1
Pennsylvania State College, State College
Swarthmore College, Swart hmore
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 1
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
Villanova College, Villanova 1

•

Rhode Island
Brown University, Providence s
University of Rhode Island, Kingston
South Carolina
The Citadel, Charleston 1
Clemson Agricultural College, Clemson 1
University of South Carolina, Columbia
South Dakota
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City
South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Brookings
Tennessee
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Vanderbilt University, NashvilleV,
V, see p. 38.




36

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

Texas
Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, College Station 1
Rice Institute, Houston
Southern Methodist University, Dallas
Texas College of Arts and Industries, Kingsville
Texas Technological College, Lubbock
Texas Western College, El Paso
University of Texas, Austin
University of Houston, Houston
Utah
University of Utah, Salt Lake City
Utah State Agricultural College, Logan
Vermont
Norwich University, Northfield 1
University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, Burlington
Virginia
University of Virginia, Charlottesville i *
3
Virginia Military Institute, Lexington 1
Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg
Washington
State College of Washington, Pullman
University of Washington, Seattle
West Virginia
West Virginia University, Morgantown
Wisconsin
Marquette University, Milwaukee
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Wyoming
University of Wyoming, Laramie
i All male school, or women not accepted in engineering.
> Women admitted to graduate schools only.
3 Separate colleges for men and women.
Note: Where not otherwise indicated, institutions are coeducational and, presumably, women are
accepted in all departments, including engineering. Since this list is subject to change annually, prospective
students are advised to write directly to the dean or director of the institution for current information.
Source: U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, Washington, D. C.




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37

38

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN

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o