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Sign up for our next seminar featuring Dr Emily Rees Koerner, 3rd July 4pm BST

Wednesday, 3 July 2024, at 4pm BST

Sign-up now for our online-only zoom webinar here.

Transnational Collective Action by Women in Engineering and Applied Science in the 1960s and 70s, Dr Emily Rees Koerner

Delegates at the ICWES conference in Turin, Italy, 1971, courtesy of the IET archives

In the early twentieth century, women in different nations began to organise collectively to advocate for better education, employment opportunities, and support for women in engineering and science. By the 1960s, these efforts reached across borders with the formation of the International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES), the ongoing international gathering to discuss issues in the fields of engineering and science and the promotion of women’s place within them, which was initiated by the USA’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in 1964. Thus far, there has been little academic attention paid to the history of the conferences, despite them being an example of transnational collaboration between women in STEM, nor have they been situated within histories of women’s collective action. This talk will explore how the early ICWES meetings grew out of earlier collective action of women in national settings, particularly in the form of societies for women engineers. It will then go on to examine how the conferences built upon, and were situated within, a wider context of women’s collective action, namely peace movements and networks, positing that they ultimately created a distinct form of women-led scientific diplomacy in the second half of the twentieth century.

About the Speaker 
Emily Rees Koerner is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Science Museum on the project Museums and Industry: Long Histories of Collaboration. Her recent research – following a postdoctoral research assistant role on the Electrifying Women project – has been on gender and engineering, with a focus on women’s transnational collaborative action for gender equality in STEM in the 1960s and 70s, which is part of a visiting fellowship at the University of Leeds collaborating with Prof. Graeme Gooday. She has published on transnational approaches to histories of women in engineering, 19th century women practitioners in engineering, and the domestication of television.



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