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10 Innovative Women Who Changed the History of the AEC Industry

There’s no denying the fact that women are hugely underrepresented in the engineering field, as well as in wider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects and related careers. Much debate centers around the topic of how to encourage more women to enter these professions.

According to the Knowledge Center on, work experiences impact women’s decisions to leave Science, Engineering, and Technology careers. The research suggests that “almost one-third of women in the US (32%) and China (30%) intend to leave their SET jobs within a year, and these leave rates peak about 10 years into their careers.” Some of the reasons for leaving these jobs include isolation, ineffective feedback, and a lack of sponsors.

Even though STEM fields have fewer women on boards than other industries, many female engineers have already done multitudes to advance the field.

Here are ten notable women who changed the history of the AEC industry:

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan

In 1898, Julia Morgan became the first woman admitted to the École de Beaux-Arts in Paris, widely regarded as the best school of architecture in the world.

Janet Guthrie


An aerospace engineer who learned to fly while she was in her teens, she graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in physics and worked as a research and development engineer for American aircraft manufacturer Republic Aviation.

emily roebling

emily roebling

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic engineering projects in America’s history. Washington Roebling was its Chief Engineer, but when he became seriously ill in 1872, his wife Emily stepped in.

Hedy Lamarr

heddy lamarr

Hedy Lamarr is renowned as a glamorous film star from the 1930s and 1940s, but few people are aware that she was also an avid inventor. At the beginning of World War II, she developed a radio guidance system aimed at combating the threat of jamming by enemy forces.

Lillian Gilbreth

lillian gilbreth

Lillian Gilbreth combined the fields of psychology and industrial and mechanical engineering to pioneer work in time and motion studies, as well as ergonomics. Gilbreth is credited with many “firsts” in the field of engineering, including household appliance and kitchen designs.

Edith Clark

edith clarke

Edith Clarke was an important figure in the field of electrical engineering. In 1921, she patented a graphing calculator used to solve power transmission line problems, and she was later involved in offering electrical engineering solutions for dam building.


Helen Blanchard

If you’ve ever used a zigzag sewing machine, then you have Helen Augusta Blanchard to thank. Born to a wealthy Maine family in 1840, she put her technical knowledge and flair for inventing to good use after her family lost its fortune. She filed 22 patents in total, many still relevant today, and the majority of which involved sewing machines.

Elsie Eaves

Elsie Eaves

In 1927, Elsie Eaves was the first woman to become a full member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She was also a founding member of the American Association of Cost Engineers (now AACE International). Perhaps her most distinguished and notable success was her ability to use data collection and reporting to track trends and spending activities relevant to construction projects.

grace hopper

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper was a pioneer of computer programming who worked on the Harvard Mark I, used by the US in World War II. She reached the rank of Rear Admiral in the US Navy, and was a senior mathematician at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. There, she worked with a team developing the UNIVAC I, which was the first known large-scale electronic computer.

Nora Stanton

Nora Stanton

English-born engineer Nora Stanton would later become the first female member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Born in Basingstoke in 1883, she moved to the US at a young age and became the first woman to graduate from Cornell University.