Our beginnings

WES was founded on 23 June 1919 by a small committee drawn from the National Council of Women, which was created during the 1914-18 war to get women into work to release men for the armed forces. This group of influential women had government backing to support women engineers who, although welcomed into the profession during World War I, were under pressure at the end of the war to leave the workforce to release jobs for men returning from the forces. These women founded WES, not only to resist this pressure, but also to promote engineering as a rewarding job for women as well as men.

In that first year, the Society's Journal The Woman Engineer was launched, and has been published regularly ever since. In 1923 the first annual conference was held and that also continues to this day - cancelled only twice, during the Second World War and held virtually in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founding members included wives of eminent engineers for example Lady Parsons, wife of Sir Charles. Famous members since then have included Amy Johnson, Dame Caroline Haslett, and Professor Daphne Jackson.

WES Members Visit Wolf Safety Lamp Company

Amy Johnson appears in this photograph (courtesy of the Wolf Safety Lamp Company Sheffield: Maurice-Jackson archive) of a visit of WES members to the Wolf Safety Lamp factory in 1936. Amy Mollinson (nee Amy Johnson, the aviator) is standing between Monica and William Maurice, front row right of centre.

If you would like to know more about our heritage, please visit the WES Heritage pages.