History professor wins award for engineering research

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While preparing a reading list for students in her class on the history of women in science, medicine and technology, Amy Bix discovered she could find material on the first two topics, but not much information on the history of women working in technology. She decided to write the book on it herself.

Amy Bix received an award from WEPAN for her research on women in engineering.

Bix, associate professor of history and director of ISU’s Center for Historical Studies of Technology and Science, wrote “Girls Coming to Tech!: A History of American Engineering Education for Women” (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2014), which led to a recent award from the Women in Engineering ProActive Network. The WEPAN Betty Vetter Award for Research recognizes notable achievement in research related to women in engineering. Bix received the award in June.

Her research focused on the history of women’s access to engineering education from the 1800s to today. Bix found that it was much harder for women to get even a foothold in engineering than in science or medicine just a few generations ago.

“While there were a handful of female students trickling into engineering studies in the late 1800s and early 1900s – including a few at Iowa State – it was really World War II that first changed the climate,” Bix said. “Manpower shortages in industry suddenly led the U.S. government, employers, and educators to begin begging for more women to study engineering – within a gender-stereotyped view of limits on what women could or should do. World War II set the stage for subsequent discussions about making previously all-male or mostly-male engineering programs coeducational.”

For more on her book, visit Girls Coming to Tech.

History is an academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University.


About Liberal Arts and Sciences The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a world-class learning and research community. Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment. College faculty design new materials, unravel biological structures, care for the environment, and explore social and behavioral issues. From fundamental research to technology transfer and artistic expression, the college supports people in Iowa and around the world.

NEWS RELEASE College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University


Amy Bix, History, (515) 294-0122, abix@iastate.edu Laura Wille, Liberal Arts and Sciences Communications, (515) 294-7742, lge@iastate.edu