Mary Ross (1908-2008)
First known female Native American engineer.
Quote: “I was the only female in my class. I sat on one side of the room and the guys on the other side of the room. I guess they didn’t want to associate with me. But I could hold my own with them, and sometimes did better.”
- Mary G. Ross was born in 1908 in Oklahoma. She was extremely proud of her heritage as a Cherokee Native American.
- Ross graduated from high school at age 16 and graduated from Northeastern State Teachers college at the age of 20. After teaching math and science for nearly 10 years, Ross went back to school and graduated with a master’s degree in 1938.
- In 1942, Ross was hired as an assistant to a consulting mathematician with Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Burbank, California. When Lockheed formed its Missiles Systems Division in 1954, Ross was one of the first 40 employees and the only female engineer.
- After retiring, Mary Ross would lecture at high school and college groups, encouraging young women and Native American youth to train for technical careers.
- Mary Ross was elected a fellow and life member of the Society of Women Engineers, where a scholarship was established in her name. In 1992, Mary Ross was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame.