Elsie Gregory MacGill: Engineering the future and building bridges for Canadian women, 1918--1980

Title: Elsie Gregory MacGill: Engineering the future and building bridges for Canadian women, 1918--1980
Authors: Sissons, Crystal
Date: 2008
Abstract: This thesis is a feminist case study of the public life and experiences of pioneering Canadian woman engineer, Elsie Gregory MacGill. Earning her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the University of Toronto in 1927, she then became the first woman in North America to obtain a Master's degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1929. In 1938, she was appointed Chief Aeronautical Engineer at Canadian Car and Foundry in Fort William, Ontario (presently Thunder Bay), achieving celebrity status during the war for her work at the company. MacGill later established herself as a key social reformer and feminist activist. Between the 1950s and 1980s she was actively involved in the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs (CFBPWC), served on the Royal Commission on the Status of Women (RCWS), and was a founding member of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC). This thesis discusses MacGill's training and career in engineering at a time when women's access to this male-dominated profession was extremely limited. She devoted years of dedicated service to her profession. She strongly believed that engineers needed to reach out beyond their field and interact with the larger Canadian society. However, MacGill's firm belief in the principle of equality led her to challenge her profession's ability to attract and retain women; after the war, she thus became a public advocate for women in the profession, and served as a role model and mentor. This thesis also examines MacGill's multi-dimensional feminism, which is difficult to label. It was certainly shaped by her experiences as a professional engineer. In this respect, this thesis offers important insights into the links between engineering and feminism.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/29749
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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