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Women Engineering Students at Drexel

March 24, 2008

by Robin Elliot

The Sarah Drexel Van Rensselaer Dormitory was not only a social home for women students at Drexel, but was also the site of academic conferences designed to assist female students in their educational studies. Women students in engineering had a very difficult time during the 1940's and 1950's. The number of female students in engineering stayed extremely small during this time period. Drexel tried to support these students by having specific advisors for them. The Society of Women Engineers had a chapter at Drexel during the 1950's and they tried to assist female students. At the conference held in April, 1949 there were both male and female students and graduates from Drexel who spoke about engineering and women. Drexel did have female students who were working in industry as part of the Cooperative Plan. The guest speaker of the conference was Dr. Lillian M. Gilbreth, better known today for Cheaper By the Dozen, which was written by her children about their childhood growing up with eleven siblings in New Jersey. Gilbreth was an industrial engineer and had received numerous honorary degrees. She was a good example for female students on how to succeed in a tough field for women and also how to combine childrearing and employment.
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