nora stanton barney thumbnail

Few women of the suffragette movement get the recognition they deserve, and none more so than one Nora Stanton Barney, the British-born US engineer, architect and activist, who fought for women’s right to vote and helped develop the wireless radio.

Today, we’re going to shed light on this remarkable individual and hope her life accomplishments inspire and motivate you.

Early Life

Born 30 September 1883 in Basingstoke, England, Nora Stanton Blanch was the daughter of Harriet Eaton Stanley, a staunch suffragist who got Nora into political activism while she was still young.

While Nora was born in England, spent the vast majority of her youth in New York, only visiting her birth nation every summer until 1902 when the family moved there permanently.

From an early age, Nora expressed an interest in engineering and graduated from Cornell University in 1905 with a degree in civil engineering. She was Cornell University's first female engineering graduate and she was accepted as a junior member of the American Society of Civil Engineers that same year. She also worked for the American Bridge Company.


From then on, Nora began working as a fellow member for the ASCE, the only position given to women at the time. Nora sued the company for not giving her a full member status in the society despite meeting all requirements.

In 1908, she married Lee De Forest and helped him manage his companies so he could promote his inventions, and the new technology of wireless radio. The two divorced a year later when De Forest insisted she quit her job so she can become a more conventional housewife.

Afterwards, Nora continued her engineering career with the New York Public Service Commission. She married again in 1919 to marine architect Morgan Barney. Easy to say, this marriage lasted longer.


Nora Stanton Barney’s work for women’s rights is felt even today and her contributions to both architecture and engineering are grossly underestimated.

She worked as a real estate developer until her death in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1971.

Has Nora’s story inspired you? Why not enrol as an engineering apprentice today?