This is the 32nd year our country has celebrated Women’s History Month in March. As a proud women-owned business, ECG is happy to take a moment to celebrate an inspirational woman. This year, we look to Edith Clarke.
Edith Clarke (1883-1959) was born in Ellicott City, Maryland. Orphaned at the age of 12, she was raised by her uncle. She used her inheritance to attend Vassar College, where she studied mathematics and astronomy.
She went on to study electrical engineering at Columbia University, while working as a “computer assistant” at AT&T. In 1918, she became the first women to receive a Masters in Science in Electrical Engineering from MIT, but was unable to find work in the field. She joined General Electric as a “human computer”, which led her to obtaining the patent for the Clarke calculator, more commonly known as the graphing calculator. This was utilized in solving transmission problems in electrical lines.
In 1923, GE hired her the first female electrical engineer and three years later she presented a paper to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), once again as the first female.
She left GE in 1947 to teach electrical engineering at the University of Texas, Austin, where she stayed until retirement in 1956. While there, she received a lifetime achievement award and was elected a fellow of the AIEE.