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Women in Engineering Program records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 7

Scope and Contents

The Women in Engineering Program records (1935-2012; 1.85 cubic feet) documents the creation of the program, as well as its activities and successes.  Also included in the collection is information on Dr. Lillian Gilbreth and the first woman to graduate in engineering at Purdue, Martha Dicks Stevens.  The records reflect the growth of the program over the years as well as the substantial increases in the number of women engineers that were attributed to the program.  The collection would be useful to researchers interested in women in STEM and traditionally male fields, women’s history, and the role of public universities in the women’s movement.  The records would also be useful for researchers interested in publicity a/or publications regarding Lillian Gilbreth and her role as a pioneering woman engineer.  The collection is comprised primarily of publicly distributed materials and has little in the way of correspondence or personal papers.  Types of materials include:  brochures, clippings, electronic media, photographs, reports, and speeches.  The records are organized into four series.


  • 1935-2012
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1970-2000
  • Other: Date acquired: 11/06/2012


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

All copyrights belong to Purdue University per deed of gift.

Historical Information

The Purdue Women in Engineering Program was established in 1969 in response to the perceived lack of women students enrolled in engineering in spite of the successes of women engineers in other countries.  The program was the first of its kind in the U.S., and is credited with providing a model for similar programs nationwide.  The program worked to actively recruit women skilled in math and science from Indiana high schools and, later, elementary schools.  In its outreach efforts, the program also attempted to improve general public knowledge about the engineering discipline and available career paths for graduates.  In addition to recruiting, a second focus of the Women in Engineering Program was to provide support for existing female students in an effort to improve retention and graduation rates.  These efforts included mentoring programs, grouping of women in classes, financial and personal support, and partnerships with the Purdue Society of Women Engineers.  These efforts ultimately helped to improve both retention and graduation rates among female students in engineering.  According to the Women in Engineering Program website, all of these efforts have resulted in the increased enrollment of women from one percent in 1969 to twenty-six percent in 2023.


1.85 Cubic Feet

5 boxes other_unmapped

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 shoe_boxes

Arrangement Note

1.  Administrative Information, 1970-2008 (0.75 cubic feet).  The administrative information series includes reports and statistical data on the Women in Engineering Program, promotional materials, information on mentoring, and clippings regarding the first woman graduate in engineering.  The materials provide an accurate representation of the growth and expansion of the program as well as its impact on women students.  The materials also situate Purdue’s program within the context of other Women in Engineering programs in the United States.  Materials in the series are arranged by type and subject matter.  2.  Clippings and Publications, 1935-2012 (0.5 cubic feet).  The clippings and publications series includes clippings on Lillian Gilbreth, women and the engineering profession, women in engineering at Purdue, and the Purdue Grand Prix.  Also included are Purdue and external publications such as Womengineer, Feminengineer, and promotional materials related to recruitment of women students to the engineering program.  The materials in this series are arranged by type. 3.  Photographs, 1970-2004 (0.5 cubic feet).  The photographs series primarily documents students and staff affiliated with the Women in Engineering Program.  The photographs are organized chronologically by subject matter. 4.  Electronic Media, 1992-1998 (0.1 cubic feet).  The discs in this series appear to be computer file backups and are arranged by type.

Source of Acquisition

Elizabeth Holloway, Director, Women in Engineering Program

Method of Acquisition

Transfer from the Women in Engineering Program by Elizabeth Holloway, Director of the Women in Engineering Program, on November 06, 2012.

Other Descriptive Information

The poster "Women in Engineering: The Feminine Angle" was scanned on February 3, 2015 and is available at: \\\archives\ASC\UA00007 - Women in Engineering Program Records\working

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained.  All materials have been placed in archival housing.  All newsprint has been photocopied and in most cases original newspaper clippings have been discarded. Some clippings containing images of people or color graphics, or front pages of newspapers, have been preserved for display purposes, with photocopies made available for research. Materials have been organized into series by type.
Women in Engineering Program records
In Progress
Virginia Pleasant
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second edition

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States