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With today being International Women’s Day, it seems a fitting time to launch the very first installment of HERO’s Heroines – our new weekly celebration of influential and ground-breaking women in the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  From Marie Curie, Lise Meitner and Chien-Shiung Wu to Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin and Edith Clarke, there have been many awe-inspiring women who’ve smashed their way through the glass ceiling and made their mark on the world.

These are the kind of heroines we love at HERO Recruitment. So who better to start the series with than legendary engineer and native Galwegian Alice Perry?

Born in Wellpark in 1885, Alice was one of the five daughters of James and Martha Perry. Her father was the County Surveyor in Galway West and co-founded the Galway Electric Light Company, which gave her a strong early interest in engineering.

Alice won a scholarship to study at Queen’s College Galway (now NUIG) in 1902, and eventually graduated with first class honours in 1906.  At the Alumni Association dinner that year, Dr R.W. Leslie congratulated “the first lady to obtain the degree of Bachelor of Engineering in the UK.”

Unfortunately, her father passed away and she was unable to do a postgrad. Instead, she took up his post and became the acting County Surveyor until 1907. Although she was considered too young and inexperienced to be given the job permanently, she certainly impressed in the role. The Connacht Champion noted in February 2007 that “the many and arduous duties of County Surveyor have never been better or more faithfully discharged than since they were taken over by Miss Perry.”

Alice moved to London and took up a Civil Service position as Lady Factory Inspector, monitoring the laws regarding women at work in industrial settings.  It was an important role at a time when many factory environments exposed their workers to toxic substances such as mercury and lead. Although she was offered a promotion to Woman Deputy Superintendant Inspector, she retired from her post in 1921.

Moving to the USA two years later, Alice devoted the rest of her life to religious studies and to writing poetry (she published seven collections). Before her death in 1969 in Boston, she made three visits home to Ireland – including a visit to the Department of Civil Engineering in 1948.

Thankfully, her achievements have not been forgotten. In March 2017, NUI Galway held an official ceremony to mark the naming of the Alice Perry Engineering Building, posthumously honouring the very first female graduate in what had traditionally been a male-only discipline.

Today, HERO Recruitment would like to honour this pioneering woman again. If Alice Perry were alive in 2020, she’s definitely the type of individual we’d be hoping to recruit. We love engaging with talented innovators who push boundaries and understand leading technologies – and we also understand the importance of achieving a wholesome work-life balance.

Thankfully, times have radically changed and there are many Alice Perrys working in STEM fields today. If you think you’re one of them, reach out and contact us, and we’ll try to match you to our most suited client.

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