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Nora Stanton Blatch Barney (September 30, 1883 – January 18, 1971) was an English-born U.S. civil engineer, architect, and suffragist. Barney was among the first women to graduate with an engineering degree in United States. Given an ultimatum to either stay a wife or practice engineering she chose engineering. She was the granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
She was born Nora Stanton Blatch in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England in 1883 to William Blatch and Harriot Eaton Stanton, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She studied Latin and mathematics at the Horace Mann School in New York, beginning in 1897, returning to England in the summers. The family moved to the United States in 1902. Nora attended Cornell University, graduating in 1905 with a degree in civil engineering. She was Cornell University's first female engineering graduate. In the same year, she was the first woman admitted (accepted as a junior member) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She also began work for the New York City Board of Water Supply and for the American Bridge Company in 1905–06. Following the examples set by her mother and grandmother, Nora also became active in the growing women's suffrage movement. She was the first female member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, where she was allowed to be a junior member only and denied advancement to associate member in 1916 solely because of her gender. At the time, women were only admitted as junior members. In 1916, she sued the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for refusing to admit her as a full member, even though she met all requirements. Blatch lost, and no woman became a full ASCE member for a decade. In 2015, she was posthumously advanced to ASCE Fellow status.
In 1908, she married the inventor Lee de Forest, and helped to manage some of the companies he had founded to promote his invention and the new technology of wireless (radio). The couple spent their honeymoon in Europe marketing radio equipment developed by de Forest. However, the couple separated only a year later, due largely to de Forest's insistence that Nora quit her profession and become a conventional housewife. Shortly afterward, in June 1909, Nora gave birth to their daughter, Harriot. In 1909, she began working as an engineer for the Radley Steel Construction Company. She divorced de Forest in 1911. After her divorce, she continued her engineering career, working for the New York State Public Service Commission.
In 1919, Nora married Morgan Barney, a marine architect. Their daughter, Rhoda Barney Jenkins, born July 12, 1920, in New York, was an architect and social activist. Nora continued to work for equal rights for women and world peace, and in 1944 authored World Peace Through a People's Parliament. Nora worked as a real-estate developer and political activist until her death in Greenwich, Connecticut on January 18, 1971.
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