(The Flatiron Building under construction, image public domain)

International Women’s Day is a good time to highlight the remarkable career of Elmina Wilson, the first woman to receive a civil engineering degree from Iowa State University (ISU) and one of America’s pioneering woman structural engineers.

Besides becoming the first woman at ISU (and possibly in the world) to teach engineering, where she rose to a position as Associate Professor, Elmina worked on a number of beautiful American structures.

These include New York’s Met Life Tower, the iconic flatiron building (on which she worked with fellow pioneering engineer, Marian Sarah Parker), the Marston Water Tower (working alongside her ISU Mentor, Anson Marston) and the Teachers Cottage at the Arrowmont Arts and Crafts School in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – which she designed with her sister, Alda, who was also an engineer. The Cottage is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

(Met Life Tower, New York, image credit: Beyond My Ken, Wikimedia Commons)

Elmina was also an important voice in the Suffrage movement, serving as a District President for the Woman Suffrage Club in Manhattan. You get some idea of her spirit from her entry in “Iowa Pride”:

“Her college yearbook described (her) as a ‘Runaway in High Life’, alluding to her running away from home at the age of seven. For the rest of her life she was on the go.”

Read more about Elmina here.


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