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Although her school education was disrupted by the War, she was an excellent student who was accepted to read maths at Cambridge, and then switched to engineering so that she could benefit from a wartime bursary. She was one of only five women in a class of 250, and the course was condensed into two years because of the War. Her education was disrupted not by a global pandemic but by a world war. She stayed calm, carried on and became Britain’s leading female engineer.
She worked on fighter planes at Hawker Aircraft immediately after graduating, but left after the War to develop air safety measures for British European Airways
After she married and moved to a small Essex village, she turned to local politics and was particularly involved in improving education
Campaigner for Equality
As a life peer, she chaired the Equal Opportunities Commission and was the first chair of WISE, the national initiative to promote Women in Science and Engineering
For a woman to become an aeronautical engineer in the 1940s was in itself a huge achievement, but her major significance lay in promoting female education and career opportunities in science.
Did You Know?
‘WISE is the Word’ she said, when refusing to have a scholarship named after her personally.
She was happily married for 54 years, but when she first met her husband as a school girl he condemned her as a swot.
She emphasised to young women that they should never ever learn to type, because if they did they would be relegated to secretarial duties.
An Inspiring Woman
She was an outstanding role model who encouraged young women into science where they could have ‘such fun’. She was important not because of her scientific innovations, but because of her courage, determination and dedication to supporting younger women.