Pioneering Essex Women – Past Pioneers

What do an astrologer, an electrical engineer, a philosopher, a physician and an aeronautical engineer all have in common? They’re all women born in Essex who were pioneers in STEAM job roles.

These remarkable women from the past were all trailblazers of their time and are an inspiration to young women everywhere.

There are many diverse stories of Essex women in STEAM who pioneered the way for women. Their stories capture your interest and imagination. The legacy they left behind is being seen today with many women from Essex still leading the way.


Margeret Cavendish

Margaret Cavendish (1623 – 1673)

An author and philosopher who wrote frequently on scientific topics and is much admired for her poetry that included descriptions of her theory of atomics, told through verse. She dedicated her work to philosophical thought rather than physical experiments and unusually for the time, was brave enough to publish under her own name rather than hiding in secrecy.


Olivia Barclay (1919 – 2001)

An astrologer who played an important role in the revival of traditional forms of astrology in the late 20th century. In 1984, as part of her work as a professional astrologer, she founded and taught the first traditional astrology course in the UK; the Qualified Horary Practitioner course. In 1991 she received the Professional Astrologers Inc. Award for her ‘outstanding contribution to astrology’.


Baroness Platt of Writtle (1923 – 2015)

Beryl Platt was one of the first female aeronautical engineers. She played a vital part in the design of aircraft pivotal to the allied victory in WW2. An important politician, she was appointed chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission in 1983. As a member of the Engineering Council, she stressed the need for more female engineers and was patron of Women in Science and Engineering.


Dr Dame Rosemary Rue DBE (1928 – 2004)

A physician, researcher and civil servant, her career saw her take on a number of senior roles including: President of the Medical Women’s Federation (1982–1983), President of the Faculty of Community Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians (1986–1989), President of the British Medical Association (1990–1991), Founding Fellow of Green College, Oxford.

In 2001, Rosemary was awarded the Edward Jenner Medal of the Royal Society of Medicine for her praised work in epidemiological research.


Florence Attridge (1901-1975)

An electrical engineer who during the Second World War, was the head of the coil winding shop at the Marconi wireless factory. In 1946, Florence was awarded the British Empire Medal (Civil Division) for her war work.


Do you know an inspiring female STEAM champion from Essex? We would love to hear from you!

Tell us at:
Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #PioneeringEssexWomen