Photo of the new halls of residence Claudia Parsons on the outside

Loughborough University celebrates 100 years of women engineers

In 1919, four female students joined Loughborough University – which was then known as Loughborough Technical College – to study automobile engineering.

photo of Claudia Parsons

These four women were Claudia Parsons, Dorothea Travers, Verena Holmes and Patience Erskine and at the time they were a minority in a sector historically dominated by men.

Since then, Loughborough University has gone from strength to strength by welcoming and celebrating women in engineering.

It strongly advocates for women in STEM, by hosting specific drop-in events for prospective female students interested in those subject areas at Open Days and through outreach activities such as girls into STEM, inspiring minds and engineering experience.

These activities are designed to highlight the opportunities that higher education has to offer prospective students specifically within STEM subjects.

An annual memorial lecture is dedicated to Claudia Parsons – who was the first women to circumnavigate the globe by car – and most recently, a brand-new hall of accommodation located on campus has been named after her too.

Loughborough’s Women’s Engineering Society has over 60 members, who are dedicated to offering inspiration, support and professional development opportunities through a range of events.

Previous Loughborough WES Chair and PhD student Jennifer Glover has created a publication with the University to mark the centenary year after being inspired by a magazine entitled ‘Women in Engineering’ from the 1980s which was originally written by Dr Susan Bullivant who used to work at Loughborough University.  

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching Professor Rachel Thomson, who is Loughborough’s first female Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, commented: “Loughborough students never cease to amaze me in all that they achieve. We have a proud history of female engineering graduates, inspired 100 years ago by the exploits of Claudia Parsons and her pioneering colleagues, with a ‘can do’ attitude which pervades today.

“I know that our current and future students will continue to follow in this tradition and will make a major contribution to the societal challenges of tomorrow.”

To mark the centenary year of the first-time women studied engineering at the institution, the University has created a dedicated website showcasing inspiring female students and alumnae who have or are studying various engineering disciplines, from automotive and mechanical to product design and sports technology.

Their case studies reveal their successes, their challenges, their ambitions, and also their advice for the next generation of engineers.

Find out more about them here.