Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 145,252 pages of information and 230,730 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
"The Women's Engineering Society was formed 'to promote the study and practice of engineering among women...'"
1919 The society was formed after the First World War, during which many women had taken up roles in engineering to replace men who were involved in the military effort. There had been an attitude among employers and trades unions that denied women jobs and training in engineering. While it had been seen as necessary to bring women into engineering to fill the gap left by men joining the armed forces, government, employers and trades unions were against the continuing employment of women after the war.
1919 Founding directors were Margaret Rowbotham, Eleanor Georgiana Shelley-Rolls, Rachel Parsons, Katherine Parsons, Janette Mary Ormsby, Margaret Moir, Laura A. Willson. Rachel Parsons became the society's first president.. Others taking a part in the Society from an early stage included Verena Holmes and Dorothee Pullinger; Margaret Partridge joined in 1920.
1920 A Conference was held in London under the presidency of Lady Parsons. Reference was made to the hostile attitude of the trade unions to the employment of women in engineering factories. The society demanded that all technical colleges should be open to girls as well as boys.
1926 The fourth annual Conference of Women Engineers was held at Leeds University from September 3rd to 6th next, inclusive.
The WES joined forces with the International Labour Office’s Women’s Employment section and the International Federation of Business and Professional Women to get the law which prohibited the industrial employment of women at night (ratified by the Washington Convention of the International Labour Organization in 1919). In 1934 there was a partial relaxation, so that supervisory-grade women could work at night, but full repeal was not achieved until the 1950s.