Florence Violet Mckenzie, or Mrs Mac, as she was more affectionately known as, was born in 1890 and would devote the bigger part of her life to engineering in Australia. Unlike many of her male counterparts, Florence’s name is barely recognized around the country despite her service to it. McKenzie was Australia’s very first electrical engineer, first female amateur radio operator and she also later became the founder of the Electrical Association for Women.
During World War II, Florence created the Women’s Emergency Signaling Corps and some of her trainees were asked to work for the Royal Australian Navy. Her original idea was to train women to learn communications so that the men could serve the country in the war. The project was eventually known as the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service. She also trained about 12,000 servicemen in her Morse code training school. Between 1918 and 1934, she had her own successful electrical contracting and wireless supplies business and here, all her work was done pro bono.
McKenzie was also in correspondence with Albert Einstein in the years from 1949 leading up to the time he died. She would send him letters and gifts from all over the world, brought to her by her airline pilot friends.
Later elected a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Navigation and a Member of the Royal Naval Amateur Radio Society, when she died in 1982, she said, “…it is finished, and I have proved to them all that women can be as good as, or better than men.”
Not everything was smooth sailing for Florence and her signalling “girls in green”. She had to design a uniform for them to make it very clear to the rest of the world that their service and motive was true. The navy also had to be convinced to let them work, and later, kept them a secret.
STEM Superwomen of today
STEM refers to science, technology, math and engineering. More and more companies and organizations from all industries are realizing the importance of women taking charge and joining STEM industries.
For example, earlier this year, the Bauer Media, the owner of brands like Women’s Weekly, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar, joined forces with Elucent Skincare to find the next STEM superwoman. They advertised an AUD$20,000 grant for the winning participant who would join Elucent Skincare’s microbiologist Alexandra Kite in her work as a beauty scientist.
STEMmates’ goal is to empower all the children, male or female, that pass through our doors, to become the supermen and superwomen that they are.
Our courses are designed to teach them skills that will follow them into their adult years.
Give your child the chance to wear that cape today. Sign up for our STEM courses through our Facebook and website pages.