Society of Women Engineers

Catherine Eiden

Catherine Eiden

1914-1990

Catherine EidenCatherine’s entire professional career was with the Illinois Bell Telephone Company.  She worked in the Accounting and Commercial Departments of the company before transferring to the Engineering Department.  She began as an Engineering Clerk Special, later became an Engineering Assistant, then an Engineer.  At the time of her Presidency she was a Staff Engineer in the Plant Extension Division.  Her work involved the determination of the economic desirability of alternate plans for additions to telephone plants with due consideration of the continued use or retirement of existing facilities.

Catherine joined SWE in early 1952 as a Charter Member of the Chicago Section.  She was the first Treasurer of the Section, served two years as Section Chairman and two years as Section Director.  Prior to her Presidency she was National Treasurer of SWE.  As Treasurer she deplored the practice of coping with records for “a bunch of women who kept changing their names” and instituted the member number system.  After her Presidency she served for many years on SWE’s Board of Trustees.  A quiet, capable woman, Katie holds a record unbroken to this day — she was the only SWE President to serve three consecutive terms.

Today’s SWE owes a great debt of gratitude to this woman.  The crises she weathered with humor, dignity, and a large measure of inspiration allowed the fledgling organization to move forward.  Her first crisis was the problem with finding money for the Headquarters Fund.  The second was a complete and total refurbishing of the Bylaws which were inflexible and needed readjustment to separate policies and procedures from pure bylaws.  Her third crisis was an IRS ruling against SWE which required rewording of the 1952 Articles of Incorporation.  The fourth crisis was Regionalization.  By 1958 the Board of Directors had grown to thirty people.  In 1959 the Board of Directors was dissolved, an Executive Committee was put in its place, and a Council of Section Representatives created to serve as the Society’s legislative arm.  This structure remained in place for 25 years.

  • Mundelein College, 2 years, Math major
  • Life Member of SWE
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