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Hicks, Beatrice Alice (2 Jan. 1919–21 Oct. 1979), engineer, inventor, and business executive, was born Beatrice Alice Hickstein to Florence Benedict Neben and William Lux Hickstein in Orange, New Jersey. She often recounted that she was drawn to the field of engineering at the age of thirteen when her father, a chemical engineer, took her to see the Empire State Building and the George Washington Bridge. Amazed by the structures, she inquired who built them, and upon learning they were designed by engineers, she decided that she wanted to become one as well. As a student at Orange High School, she enjoyed mathematics, physics, chemistry, and mechanical drawing. Her academic interests and professional aspirations, however, received little support from her family, friends, and teachers. Her parents, concerned with having to finance special schooling for Beatrice’s younger sister, Margaret, who was born with an intellectual disability, encouraged her to study stenography instead. Meanwhile, she encountered outright opposition from her classmates and some of her teachers, who made a point of telling her that engineering—where women made up less than one percent of the profession—was not a suitable field for female students....

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Percy, Charles Hartung (27 Sept. 1919–17 Sept. 2011), business executive and politician, was born in Pensacola, Florida, to Edward H. Percy, a bank cashier with distinguished family roots in Alabama and Virginia, and Elizabeth Harting Percy, a concert violinist from Illinois. During young Percy’s infancy the family moved to Chicago, where two more children were born. The Percys led a comfortable life in the 1920s, providing their children with music lessons and other middle-class amenities. By ...

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Roebling, Mary G. (29 July 1905–25 Oct. 1994), banker and the first woman governor of the American Stock Exchange, was born Mary Gindhart in West Collingswood, New Jersey, the eldest of four children of Isaac Dare Gindhart, Jr., a telephone company executive, and Mary W. Gindhart, a vocalist and pianist. As a child Mary displayed a hardy work ethic by picking strawberries for a penny per box, and this industriousness later characterized her career. She attended public schools in Haddonfield and Moorestown, New Jersey before leaving high school in ...