Women's Engineering Society
The Women's Engineering Society is a United Kingdom professional learned society and networking body for women engineers, scientists and technologists. It was the first professional body set up for women working in all areas of engineering, predating the Society of Women Engineers by around 30 years.
The society was formed on 23rd June 1919, after the First World War, during which many women had taken up roles in engineering to replace men who were involved in the military effort. While it had been seen as necessary to bring women into engineering to fill the gap left by men joining the armed forces, government, employers and trades unions were against the continuing employment of women after the war. The Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act 1919 gave soldiers returning from World War I their pre-war jobs back and meant many women could no longer work in roles they were employed to fill during the war.
This led a group of seven women, including Lady Katharine Parsons, her daughter Rachel Parsons, Lady Margaret Moir, and Laura Annie Willson, to form the Women's Engineering Society, with the aim of enabling women to gain training, jobs and acceptance. The Society's first Secretary was Caroline Haslett.
Early members in the 1920s and 1930s, included Verena Holmes, Hilda Lyon, Margaret Partridge and Margaret Rowbotham. Pilot and engineer, Amy Johnson, who was the first woman to fly solo from the United Kingdom to Australia, was a member of WES and served as president between 1935-37. A registry of members from 1935 shows there were members from across the world, such as the United States of America, including sociologist and industrial engineer Lillian Gilbreth, and Germany, including Asta Hampe and Ilse Knot-ter Meer.
The society celebrated its 95th year in 2014 with the launch of International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June 2014. It celebrated its centenary in 2019 with the launch of the WES Centenary Trail, a project to highlight the historic stories of women engineers.
Work and campaignsEdit
Society members have advised the UK government on evolving employment practices for women. Constituted as a professional society with membership grades based on qualification and experience, the society promotes the study and practice of engineering and allied sciences among women.
WES is represented by groups. The work of the groups focuses on:
- support to members and women engineers in general,
- encouragement of women to study engineering and take up engineering careers,
- promotion of corporate gender diversity,
- speaking as the collective voice of women engineers.
|ISO 4||Woman Eng.|
Caroline Haslett edited the society's journal The Woman Engineer in its early years. The journal contained technical articles in its early years. It now contains articles which give readers a view of work in engineering disciplines and celebrates the achievements of women. The digital archive of the journal is held by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
The Women's Engineering Society holds an annual conference, a student conference and regional workshops and networking events.
Outreach to schoolsEdit
WES members volunteer in schools to inspire girls to take up engineering and allied science careers. In 1969, President Verena Holmes left a legacy to fund an annual lecture to inspire school girls. Run by the Verena Holmes Trust, the first lecture tour was in 1969 during the first UK Women in Engineering Year. It was delivered at various venues to children aged nine to eleven to encourage their interest in engineering,  The lectures were given by leading engineers. Mary Kendrick gave the lecture in 1981. The programme is closed.
In 2014 WES set up an outreach programme called Magnificent Women (and their flying machines) which replicates? the work that women did during the First World War in making aircraft wings, and this was aimed at secondary school girls.
Members provided the 'technical women power' for the WISE Buses that were launched following the WISE Year in 1984. They continue to undertake activities in schools, often through the UK STEM Ambassador scheme.
MentorSET is a mentoring scheme for engineers, inspired by the WES President Petra Gratton (née Godwin) in 2000. The scheme was a collaborative project with national network of women scientists (AWISE). It was a mentoring scheme to help women in their career and to support them back into engineering after a career break. MentorSET has been funded by DTI, the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET, and BAE Systems. In 2015 the MentorSET programme was relaunched with funding from DECC, now BEIS and Women in Nuclear and is now relevant to women working in science and technology as well as engineering.
Members are drawn from women who have entered the profession through routes varying from traditional apprenticeship to higher education leading to graduate and further degrees. The participation of male engineers in the society is encouraged.
Current membership exceeds 1000 individuals and over 35 corporate and education partners.
- 1919–1921 Rachel Parsons
- 1922–1925 The Hon Katharine, Lady Parsons
- 1926–1928 Laura Annie Willson
- 1929–1930 Margaret, Lady Moir
- 1931–1932 Verena Holmes
- 1933–1934 Elizabeth Kennedy
- 1935–1937 Amy Johnson
- 1938–1939 Edith Mary Douglas
- 1940–1941 Dame Caroline Haslett
- 1942–1943 Gertrude Lilian Entwisle
- 1944–1945 Margaret Partridge
- 1946–1947 Winifred Hackett
- 1948–1949 Frances Heywood
- 1950–1951 Sheila Leather
- 1952–1953 Ella Collin
- 1954–1955 Dorothy Pile
- 1955–1956 Kathleen Cook
- 1957–1958 Marjorie Bell
- 1959–1960 Madeleine Nobbs
- 1961–1962 Isabel Hardwich
- 1963 Cicely Thompson
- 1964 Dorothy Cridland
- 1965 Cicely Thompson
- 1966–1967 Rose Winslade
- 1968–1969 Elizabeth Laverick
- 1970–1971 May Maple
- 1972–1973 Peggy Hodges
- 1974–1975 Gwendolen Howard
- 1976–1977 Henrietta Bussell
- 1978–1979 Veronica Milligan
- 1980–1981 Maria Watkins
- 1982–1983 Rosemary West
- 1983–1985 Daphne Jackson
- 1985–1987 Linda Maynard
- 1987–1989 Hilda Blount
- 1989–1991 Dorothy Hatfield
- 1991–1993 Sue Bird
- 1993–1995 Lynette Willoughby
- 1995–1997 Mary Harris / Sue Bird
- 1997–1998 Philippa Ayton
- 1998 Petra Godwin
- 1999 Suzanne Flynn
- 2000 Nicole Rockliff
- 2001 Jackie Longworth
- 2002 Jackie Carpenter
- 2003–2004 Pam Wain
- 2005–2006 Dawn Fitt
- 2007 Grazyna Whapshott
- 2008–2010 Jan Peters
- 2011–2013 Milada Williams
- 2013–2014 Carol Marsh
- 2014–2015 Dawn Bonfield
- 2015–2018 Benita Mehra
- 2018–present Dawn Childs
- Heald, Henrietta. (2020). Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines. Unbound. ISBN 978-1-78352-660-4. OCLC 1134535786.
- Canel, Annie; Oldenziel, Ruth (2005). "Am I a Lady or an Engineer? The Origins of the Women's Engineering Society in Britain, 1918-1940". Crossing Boundaries, Building Bridges. Routledge. ISBN 9781135286811. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
- Heald, Henrietta (2019). Magnificent women and their revolutionary machines. London. ISBN 978-1-78352-660-4. OCLC 1080083743.
- "Changing role of women in wartime". BBC Bitesize: Domestic impact of war: society and culture. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
- Women's Engineering Society. "The Woman Engineer". The Woman Engineer. 1 (1): 1.
- Gooday, Graeme (2019-08-07). "Who launched the Women's Engineering Society in 1919?". Electrifying Women. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
- Koerner, Emily Rees (2020-06-16). "Why the Women's Engineering Society still has its work cut out after 100 years". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
- "Archives Biographies: Dame Caroline Haslett". www.theiet.org. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
- "History | Women's Engineering Society". www.wes.org.uk. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
- Rees, Emily (2019-08-22). "Learning more from the archives: the Register of Women Engineers, 1935". Electrifying Women. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
- "International Women in Engineering Day 2017". International Women in Engineering Day 2017. Women's Engineering Society. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
- "WES Centenary Trail". Women's Engineering Society. 2020-03-04.
- "The Woman Engineer Journal".
- "Woman Engineer journal online exhibition". www.theiet.org. The IET. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
- "The Verena Holmes Lecture Series | Women's Engineering Society". www.wes.org.uk. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
- Women's Engineering Society: Role Models; accessed 24 February 2013]
- Verena Holmes Lecture, wes.org.uk; accessed 22 June 2015.
- Kendrick, Mary (1988-10-01). "The Thames barrier". Landscape and Urban Planning. Special Issue The Landscape of Water. 16 (1): 57–68. doi:10.1016/0169-2046(88)90034-5. ISSN 0169-2046.
- "Magnificent Women". www.wes.org.uk. Women's Engineering Society. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
- "Mentor SET". Mentor SET. Retrieved 27 November 2017.