Beatrice Alice Hicks
Biography of Beatrice Alice Hicks
Beatrice Alice Hicks (January 2, 1919 – October 21, 1979) was an American engineer, the first woman engineer to be hired by Western Electric, and both co-founder and first president of the Society of Women Engineers in 1950.
Beatrice Hicks was born in 1919 in Orange, New Jersey to William Lux Hicks, a chemical engineer, and Florence Benedict. Hicks decided at an early age that she wished to be an engineer. While her parents neither supported nor opposed Hicks' desired career path, some of her teachers and classmates tried to discourage her from becoming an engineer, viewing it as a socially unacceptable role for a woman to fill. Despite this, she graduated from Orange High School in 1935 and received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Newark College of Engineering (now New Jersey Institute of Technology) in 1939. There was only one other woman in Hicks' class at the Newark College of Engineering. In order to pay for expenses during college, Hicks worked in the treasury office of an Abercrombie & Fitch store, as a telephone operator, and in the university's library. After reviving her undergraduate degree, Hicks stayed at Newark College of Engineering for three years as a research assistant, where she studied the history of Edward Weston's inventions, and took additional classes at night.