Engineer of the Week No.40. Elizabeth M. Kennedy (circa 1875/77- 1958)
Today we remember Elizabeth Kennedy, machine tools expert and WES President.
Elizabeth Kennedy never described herself as an engineer but nevertheless spent her entire working life in engineering. Nothing is known of her background or upbringing. The teenager who had wanted to be a journalist, became a recognised expert in the types and qualities of machine tools for both wood and metalworking, having joined J.B. Stone & Co in 1904. Starting in a secretarial role, she rose to become the company’s managing director and remained with them for 30 years. She was adamant that, as it took years to make a competent engineer, she could not claim to be able to operate any of the machine tools about which she knew so much. She became a recognised expert in American machine tools and visited that country frequently during the period up to her retirement to learn more. In 1933 her paper“An analysis of the cost of electrical supply and distribution in Great Britain”, to the Institution of Electrical Engineers won its Premium for that year. During World War 2 this knowledge was put to use in the national war effort. She joined the Society in 1925 and was immediately active, going straight onto the council and becoming its President in 1933, when she used her presidential address to claim that she “was not a feminist” despite believing that women’s abilities and skills should be sufficient for their worth to be recognised and that women engineers were not taking men’s work. She retired from Stones in 1934, and died in 1958.