Amazing Historical Engineering Contributions by British Women

woman in engineering

Despite facing enormous barriers through the ages, women have repeatedly gone against the tide and made their mark in engineering. This National Engineering Day, we take a look at some of the most memorable engineering contributions by women in the UK… 

As we approach National Engineering Day 2023 there’s no better time to reflect on some of the incredible achievements done by women within the sector. Significant innovations achieved by women despite the many barriers are something we must continue to celebrate. 

Nina Cameron Graham (1891 – 1974)

Nina Cameron Graham was a Cheshire-born woman who went on to be the very first woman to receive an engineering degree in the UK.

She graduated from University of Liverpool in 1912 with a degree in Civil Engineering, and went on to receive a 2nd division result on the final examinations. Her designs for a railway bridge in one of the exams are part of what awarded her a degree of Bachelor of Engineering. 

Gertrude Lilian Entwisle (1892 –1961)

Gertrude Lilian Entwisle was an electrical engineer who became the first British woman to maintain a professional engineering career all the  way to retirement.

She only managed to keep her position at Metropolitan-Vickers because she was an unmarried woman, and the company refused to hire women who were married. She kept her job there for almost 40 years, and went down in history for doing so. 

It’s worth  noting that Gertrude was also the first woman to be admitted to the technical staff of British Westinghouse, the first woman member of the Society of Technical Engineers and the first Student, Graduate and Associate Member of the IEE (now the IET).

Sarah Guppy (1770 – 1852)

Sarah was an English-born inventor from Birmingham, who was the first ever woman in history to patent a bridge. From this achievement in 1811, she went on to take out a patent for a new mode of constructing and erecting bridges.

Her interest in engineering led to her taking out patents on several domestic appliances, including a precursor to the toaster.

Her reputation as the true creator of some famous UK bridges was said to be false, though others have stated that she faced challenges for recognition during a time when women were not given credit for their success.