New Book Explores the History of Women in Academic Engineering

bixAmy Sue Bix, an associate professor of history at Iowa State University, is the author of a new book that documents the history of women in the field of engineering. The book is Girls Coming to Tech!: A History of American Engineering Education for Women (MIT Press, 2014).

Dr. Bix points out that engineering started out as a function of the military and women were not permitted to be involved. She notes that the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which did not admit women until 1976, was the first academic institution in the country to teach engineering.

EngBookProfessor Bix notes that women began to make inroads into the field following World War II, by gaining acceptance into academic programs at such institutions as MIT, Georgia Tech, and CalTech. Bix says that what struck her most is that even when its was just one or two women in an academic engineering program, “the word ‘invasion’ was used over and over again. It gives you a sense of how much male ownership there was in engineering.”

Dr. Bix went on to say that “things have changes so much for many female students that this history of how difficult it was for earlier generations is a real revelation. But when I talk with other female engineering students who still get the harassment, for them it’s still a very different experience.”

Dr. Bix holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.

Filed Under: BooksSTEM FieldsWomen's Studies


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