23 Facts About Beatrice Hicks


Beatrice Alice Hicks 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.


Beatrice Hicks was born in 1919 in Orange, New Jersey, to William Lux Hicks, a chemical engineer, and Florence Benedict.


Beatrice Hicks decided at an early age that she wished to be an engineer.


Beatrice Hicks graduated from Orange High School in 1935 and received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Newark College of Engineering in 1939, one of only two women in her class.


In 1942 Beatrice Hicks took a job at the Western Electric Company, designing and testing quartz crystal oscillators in Kearny, New Jersey.


Beatrice Hicks was the first woman to be employed by Western Electric as an engineer, and she spent three years working there.


Beatrice Hicks served as chief engineer and then as vice president in charge of engineering, before purchasing control of the company from her uncle in 1955.


Beatrice Hicks designed and patented a gas density switch later used in the US space program, including the moon landing, and was a pioneer in the field of sensors that detected when devices were reaching structural limits.


Beatrice Hicks authored several technical papers on the gas density switch.


Beatrice Hicks served as the president of the organization for two consecutive terms, from 1950 to 1952.


Beatrice Hicks toured the United States, championing the cause of female engineers through outreach and speaking engagements.


Beatrice Hicks believed that while female engineers would initially be closely watched, they would be quickly accepted.


In 1948 Beatrice Hicks married fellow engineer Rodney Duane Chipp, who held two director-level engineering positions before starting a consulting firm.


When Chipp died in 1966, Beatrice Hicks sold off Newark Controls Company and took over her late husband's consulting business.


Beatrice Hicks was selected to serve on the Defense Advisory Committee for Women in Services between 1960 and 1963, was the director of the First International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists, and represented the United States at four International Management Congresses.


Beatrice Hicks died on October 21,1979, in Princeton, New Jersey.


In 1978 Beatrice Hicks was invited to join the National Academy of Engineering, the highest professional honor in engineering, and became the sixth woman to join the organization.


In 2002 Beatrice Hicks was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.


Beatrice Hicks received honorary doctorates from Hobart and William Smith College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


Beatrice Hicks was the first female recipient of an honorary doctorate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Beatrice Hicks was a member of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.


Beatrice Hicks invented a special gas-density monitor for which she received a patent, this monitor proved to be valuable in the rapidly growing American space program.


In 2017, Beatrice Hicks was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.