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Sharing Pitt Memories

The Only Girl in Engineering


Gwendolyn Hays (ENG ’64):

I ended up at Pitt in 1964 because I wanted to be an engineer and neither Clarkson nor Carnegie Tech would accept a female in their engineering programs. Clarkson wouldn't do so until 1975.

I wasn’t really sure what an engineer was, but I didn't want to be a teacher and I loved math and science. In 1964, girls were not to mess with a man's world. At the freshman Lantern Night ceremony, [Associate Dean of Women] Savina Skewis told my mother she was so embarrassed to have one of her girls (me) in engineering, but she assured my mother that I would change my major soon.

Being the only girl in a program with 1,500 men made life different. I joined the Delta Zeta sorority to stay sane. I loved my years at Pitt and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. I spent 37 years working as an engineer, first at the National Security Agency and then at Westinghouse. I added an MBA in 1974 and became program manager of several radar development programs at Westinghouse.

I was so successful that I have been captured in the Museum of Pioneers being compiled by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. I really appreciate Pitt allowing this girl to reach her dream of being an engineer.