Sunday, November 12, 2017

WOMEN IN STEM: Hertha Ayrton

Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923) was a Jewish engineer who eventually became the first women to become a part of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. In her early life, despite belonging to a family with 8 children, Hertha was brought to London for education as early on she displayed high intelligence. After the completion of her early education, she later attended Girton College and after her completion at Girton she was in teaching. During this time she continued more schooling at Finsbury Technical College. One lecturer at Finsbury was William Ayrton, who later became her husband. Her husband’s research focused on the electric arc until a paper he was meant to present was destroyed. Hertha eventually took over her husband’s project and in 1899 she became the first woman to present a paper to the Institution. Two days after, Hertha was elected to full membership of the Institution.In 1902, Hertha was proposed as a Fellow of the Royal Society, but was not accepted as at the time “married women are not eligible as Fellows of the Royal Society.” In 1904, she read a paper at the Royal Society about her research on ripple movements in sand and water. In 1906, she was awarded the Hughes medal for her work on the arc and on sand ripples.

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