Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

Society of Women Engineers. Purdue University Student Section



  • Existence: 1946-

Historical Information

The Purdue Student Section of the Society of Women Engineers began as the Gamma chapter of Pi Omicron professional society for women in engineering in 1946. Pi Omicron received support from Dr. Lillian Gilbreth, who was also involved in the founding of Pi Omicron chapters at Syracuse and Cornell. Dr. Gilbreth noted the specific challenges faced by women in engineering and believed that a professional society geared toward fostering fellowship among women engineers and providing resources to them was a necessity. Potential members of Pi Omicron were required to be enrolled in engineering, be of sophomore standing, have good grades, and maintain membership in her respective technical society.

The decision to join the Society of Women Engineers came as a result of the desire of engineering faculty and women students to participate in a national professional society in an effort to provide more opportunities and guidance for women engineering students at Purdue. The Purdue chapter became the first student section of Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in 1954. As a student chapter, they emphasize scholarship in addition to fellowship and professional development. They have provided scholarships and awards over the years to members with outstanding records, the first of which was awarded in 1967 with assistance from the Mortar Board. Since the advent of Title IX legislation, the Purdue chapter has also expanded to include male membership.

The Purdue chapter has frequently been recognized by the national organization of SWE. They have been honored as the best section in their region, the best student section in the nation, and for the involvement and leadership of individual members.


MSP 182, Purdue Student Section of the Spciety of Women Engineers records, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections. Purdue University Libraries.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Roberta Banaszak Gleiter papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 251
Scope and Contents The Roberta Banaszak Gleiter papers (8 cubic feet; 1931-2011) contain materials that document both Gleiter’s personal and professional life such as letters of appreciation and commendation, awards, certificates, speeches and presentations, photographs, academic transcripts, items pertaining to Gleiter’s involvement in professional organizations, and materials documenting Gleiter’s time at Purdue. These include her Purdue University student identification card, materials pertaining to Gleiter’s...
Dates: 1931-2011; Other: Majority of material found in 1956-2011; Other: Date acquired: 12/09/2011

Doris Hurt Powers papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 2
Scope and Contents The Doris Hurt Powers papers (1942 – 2008; 2 cubic feet) documents the student, aviation, and business activities of Doris Hurt Powers. Powers’ experience as a woman breaking into the male-dominated fields of engineering and aeronautics is well documented through autobiographical speeches and her memoir Nothing but Blue Skies. One strength of the collection are the speeches delivered by Powers that address the particular challenges and opportunities encountered...
Dates: 1945-2011; Other: Date acquired: 03/04/2009