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women in tech

The Pioneer: Mary Reynolds Helped Raise A Generation Of Engineers

Samantha Shaddock
March 03, 2018
Mary Reynolds stood on the train platform and waved her parents goodbye. It was 1946, and the 20-year-old was trading the red dirt of Oklahoma for the frigid winters of Schenectady, New York, and an engineering job at GE.
But Reynolds liked it cold. Having suffered through Stillwater, Oklahoma’s sweltering summers, she was obsessed with the idea of air conditioning — so much so that it inspired her to study mechanical engineering in college. In 1943, female peers at Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College were few and far between. “It was war time,” said Reynolds, 90, last March from her home in St. Louis. “So a lot of them didn’t finish.”

But she did. She also helped her husband finish college and ended up educating a generation of young engineers decades later. In many ways, Reynolds, who died in April, was a pioneer for GE's plan to employ more in science, technology and engineering jobs and in manufacturing.