Anne Bainbridge - Profile:
Anne Stewart (nee Bainbridge) studied at the Department between 1959 and 1963 and became the first female EEE student to graduate. We asked Anne about her time at EEE and where her life has taken her since then.
“I went to a co-educational grammar school in West Cumberland and found that I was tending towards the sciences and mathematics subjects. The headmaster suggested I think about engineering. I was also encouraged by the senior mathematics teacher, who had herself wanted to study engineering but was discouraged.
I was never told by any of my family that a girl couldn't do engineering; even though none had gone on to tertiary education.
I selected Sheffield because it had an excellent reputation. At that time (1959) electronics was mainly using valves, with some reference to the future.
After my initial shock of walking into a lecture theatre full of men (boys!) I feel I was accepted by the electrical group and we went, as a group, on trips into Derbyshire and surrounds as well as other student activities:- Rag week, sport, coffee bar, Students’ Union.
The main problem was lack of toilet and cloakroom facilities for women. There was only one small cloakroom which became very crowded; especially on wet days.
In my first year at Sheffield Prof. Cullen introduced me to a lady who was working in engineering and was a member of the Women’s Engineering Society. I became a member (and still am) and regularly travelled to meetings in Manchester. The women were very encouraging and friendly.
It is difficult for women when there is need for a break in continuity of employment. I had 12 years out of the industry. At that time there was no childcare or ways to work and have children but I was lucky that my husband was also an electrical engineer and talked to me about his work. When I felt it was time to go back into the workforce I applied for his job when he was promoted. We both worked in the mining (brown coal) industry and later I worked in the power stations as electrical maintenance manager.”
My daughter and son also studied Engineering. My daughter told me that she saw how much I enjoyed my work and she is now encouraging other girls here in Australia.
Despite now living in Australia, we were very honoured to have Anne attend our Centenary celebration in 2017. She is pictured below with Professor Mike Hounslow (Vice-President and Head of the Faculty of Engineering) and Professor Geraint Jewell (Head of Department for EEE).