Happy International Women’s Day! Women’s history month dates back to 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which requested and authorized the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week”. During the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designated a week in March as “Women’s History Week”. In 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned to Congress to pass Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month”. Since 1995, each March of every year has been recognized by the President as “Women’s History Month”. Learn more about the Women’s History Month here. To celebrate, we wanted to share some history of women in energy. For centuries, women have made a significant impact in the energy industry and continue to do so today. Here are just a few along with their accomplishments.
Women in Energy – Women’s History Month
Mária Telkes (1900-1995)
Telkes was born in Budapest, Hungary and moved to the U.S. after getting a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. Telkes worked as a biophysicist from 1939 to 1953 in solar research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Telkes is known for creating the first thermoelectric power generator in 1947. Telkes designed the first solar heating system for the Dover Sun House in Dover, Massachusetts and the first thermoelectric refrigerator in 1953.
1952 – Society of Women Engineers Award
1977 – American Solar Energy Society, Charles Greeley Abbot Award
2012 – Induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame
Edith Clarke (1883-1959)
Clarke was the first female electrical engineer and the first female professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Clarke specialized in electrical power system analysis. In 1918, Clarke enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became the first woman to earn an M.S. in electrical engineering from MIT. In 1921, Clarke invented the Clarke calculator which is a graphical device that solved equations involving electric current, voltage, and impedance in power transmission lines.
1948 – Clarke was the first female Fellow of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers
1954 – Clarke received the Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award
2015 – Clarke was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame
Dixy Lee Ray (1914-1994)
Dixy Lee Ray was an American scientist and politician who served as the 17th Governor of the U.S. state of Washington. In 1973 Ray was appointed Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) by President Nixon due to her advocacy for atomic energy.
1958 – Clapp Award in Marine Biology
1973 – Frances K. Hutchinson Medal for Service in Conservation
1973 – United Nations Peace Medal
1974 – Francis Boyer Science Award
Beatrice Alice Hicks (1919-1979)
Beatrice Hicks was the first woman engineer hired by Western Electric. Hicks co-founded the Society of Women Engineers and was their first president. Hicks developed a gas density switch that was used in the U.S. space program, including the Apollo moon landing missions.
Honors and Awards
1952 – “Woman of the Year in Business” from Mademoiselle Magazine
1978 – Hicks became the sixth woman ever to join the National Academy of Engineering
2002 – Hicks was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame
Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist that began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. Carson became a full-time nature write in the 1950’s. During the late 1950’s Carson brought attention to conservation and problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. Carson wrote a book Silent Spring which shared environmental concerns to the American people and ultimately led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
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