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Women have long played an important but often unacknowledged role in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Until the mid-1800s, women faced the same restraints and limitations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that they faced in their everyday life: lack of autonomy, support, recognition, and lack of educational opportunities.

Nonetheless, women carved diverse collaborative roles in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from the mid-1800s onwards. Here are some engaging and inspiring examples of women’s early participation in these innovative fields that are represented in our collection—from Ada Lovelace in the 1840s through to Beatrice Shilling’s work in aviation during the Second World War and after.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dr Nina Baker, Professor Graeme Gooday, Ceryl Evans, and the Technology and Engineering curatorial team for expert checking this text. 

These online resources were developed in conjunction with the AHRC project “Electrifying Women: Understanding the Long History of Women in Engineering,” with Professor Graeme Gooday at the University of Leeds.

Header image © Jhriscones / CC BY-SA