First Woman Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers - Nora Stanton Blatch Barney - An Engineer's Aspect


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Sunday, March 13, 2016

First Woman Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers - Nora Stanton Blatch Barney

It's Women's History Month, so let's celebrate Nora Stanton Blatch Barney, admitted to ASCE as the first female member in 1906, advanced to the status of ASCE Fellow 99 years later, in 2015.
Nora Stanton Blatch Barney in 1921
Source: Wikipedia

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney became the first woman member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She was the granddaughter of the famous suffragist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Barney was also the first woman to earn a civil engineering degree from Cornell University.

According to Ben Walpole of ASCE News, in 1916, Barney applied for full ASCE Associate member status, but the Board of Direction denied her application. She took the matter to court, but lost. Walpole says she went on to have a successful engineering practice without the associate membership.

ASCE reports that in August 2015, the ASCE Executive Committee voted to posthumously advance Nora Stanton Blatch Barney to the status of ASCE Fellow. Executive Director, Thomas W. Smith III said about the advancement: "We want to recognize and appreciate those who have paved the way for today and tomorrow's diverse leadership for ASCE and the engineering profession. Advancing her to the higher level of ASCE Fellow recognizes her significant contributions."

In 1906, Nora Stanton Blatch Barney's admittance to ASCE was front page news. Below is an article I found in the Pittsburgh Daily Post from that year:

First Woman Member

American Society of Engineers Admits Miss Blatch

Special to The Pittsburgh Post.

NEW YORK. March 28.--The American Society of Civil Engineers has proved itself liberal-minded and generous, by admitting the first woman who applied for membership. Miss Nora Stanton Blatch, a granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, is the first woman member of the society, as she was the first woman to take a degree as civil engineer in Cornell University.

Miss Blatch is not the first woman to become a civil engineer. Western universities and colleges have given the degree to a few women, and few co-educational institutions refuse the course to woman students who might wish to take it. Miss Blatch was offered a position as draughtsman in a large bridge company before she left college. She rested briefly after graduation, and went to work in September.

Works Cited

"First Woman Member." Pittsburgh Daily Post 29 Mar. 1906: 1. Print.

"Nora Stanton Blatch Barney." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

Walpole, Ben. "ASCE Recognizes Stanton Blatch Barney; Pioneering Civil Engineer, Suffragist." ASCE News. N.p., 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.