Bessie Leister Dempsey becomes Boeing's first female engineer in 1948.

  • By HistoryLink Staff
  • Posted 12/09/2000
  • Essay 2880

In 1948, Bessie Leister Dempsey becomes Boeing's first female engineer.

Leister had been a ballerina, vaudeville dancer, and Hollywood star under the stage name of Yvonne St. Clair. Divorced and with custody of her son, she worked her way through the University of California's engineering program. She specialized in aerodynamics and in 1947 graduated in the upper 10 percent of her class.

She remained at Boeing for 23 years.


Mildred Tanner Andrews, Woman's Place: A Guide to Seattle and King County History (Seattle: Gemil Press, 1994), 31.

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