A blast from the past...

While staying in a delightful Comfort Inn in the not-so-bustling metropolis of Ithaca, I came across a book entitled A Definitive Study of Your Future in Electronic Engineering.  If it had not been sitting next to A Definitive Study of Your Future as an Airline Stewardess I might have taken it as a sign from a high power that this would be my future career, a decision I have long pondered, agonized over, and flipped coins for. As you might have guessed, this was a rather well-aged book, copyright 1961.  It seems that books are less likely to attempt to define anyone's future these days.  Amused, I flipped through this 160-page how-to manual, which covers everything form where to go to college  to how much you should expect to earn in your newfound profession. 

Of particular interest to myself was chapter 11, Women in Electronic Engineering.   "Ah," I thought.  "This should be interesting."   Generally, the attitude of the author (Sol Levine) was that women could be fine engineers as long as that particular field of engineering did not involve physical work. Some ideas have changed and some remain the same, either in practice or in theory.   See for yourself in the following excerpt:

"When Dr. Mervin J. Kelly, former president of Bell Telephone aboratories, Inc., one of the leading electronic laboratories in the world, was asked, 'Can girls make a go of engineering?' he answered with a resounding 'Yes!' According to Dr. Kelly, 'It is true that there are less than four thousand women graduate engineers (as against about 600,000 men) in the United Satets today.  Nevertheless, there are some very good women engineers who hold down splendid jobs and do fine, creative work.  This is particularly noticeable in electronics.'

"There was a time when engineering (chiefly civil engineering) entailed a certain amount of heavy physical work outdoors, and that made it a man's job.  But today there is little physical work connected with most branches of the engineering profession, and women with the necessary aptitudes can become successful electronic engineers.

"Most of our coeducational colleges and universities now admit women as engineering students.  The men students take having women in their engineering classes as a matter of course -- perhaps not always with enthusiasm, but at least with resignation.  Because the women in the engineering curriculum are usually above-average students, the teachers welcome them in their classes.  Professor Cecilie Froehlich, head of the Electrical Engineering Department of the College of the City of New York said, 'When you have one bright girl in your class with men, it raises the entire level.  Nobody wants to be outdone by a girl.'"

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Last updated 04/05/99 by S.R. Ashlock