Claudia Parsons

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Claudia Parsons
Born15 August 1900
Died5 June 1998
Alma materLoughborough University
Known forFirst woman to circumnavigate the world by car

Claudia Parsons (15 August 1900 – 5 June 1998) was a British engineer and traveller.

Early life and education[edit]

Parsons was born in the Shimla hill station, British India in 1900.[1] She went to Tormead School, an independent girls school in Surrey. She attended Guilford Technical Community College, where she completed a course on the auto-cycle engine. She read about the formation of the Women's Engineering Society, and went with her mother to meet Caroline Haslett, who alerted them about a technical course at Loughborough University.[2] During World War I, Loughborough had served as an instructional factor for the Ministry of Munitions.[3] In 1919 she enrolled on an automobile engineering course at Loughborough University.[1] She was one of four women, "lady engineers",[4] who were studying engineering out of three hundred students, and graduated in 1922.[2]Her fellow students were Dorothea Travers (one of the first women to be elected to the Institution of Automobile Engineers), Patience Erskine and the mechanical engineer Verena Holmes. [4]

Career[edit]

Parsons became a chauffeur-companion and drove clients across Europe, the Far East, India and America.[1] In 1938 she bought a Studebaker car in Delhi, nicknamed it Baker and drove with American anthropologist Kilton Stewart through Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Tunisia.[3] She is recognised as being the first woman to circumnavigate the world in a car.[5]

Parsons was a member of the Women's Engineering Society and submitted a number of articles to the journal The Woman Engineer, including 'What not to do when motoring abroad'.[6]

During World War II Parsons studied to become a munitions worker with Verena Holmes, and eventually worked as a machinist and a Munitions Factory inspector.[1][3] After being released from the Freeman's factory after she defended an employee, Parsons worked for the Ministry of Labour until 1949 during which time she wrote an analysis of the engineering trade as a training course for engineering officers.[4]

She wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Brighter Bondage (1935) and an autobiography Vagabondage (1941), followed by China Mending and Restoration (1963) based on her later career in china restoration. Her final autobiography, Century Story, was published in 1995.[1] Her cousin, the diplomat Sir Anthony Parsons wrote the introduction.[7]

Parsons never married, and when she was asked why she responded that men "very often threatened to stop me doing what I wanted to do".[8]

Commemoration[edit]

Claudia Parsons Lecture[edit]

Loughborough University has held a lecture in her honour annually since 2014.[9]

2014 - Maggie Aderin-Pocock[10]

2015 - Kate Bellingham[11]

2016 - Helen Czerski[12]

2017 - Emily Grossman[13]

2018 - Jess Wade[14]

Hall of Residence[edit]

Loughborough University has announced that a new hall of residence to be opened in September 2019 will be named after her.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Claudia Parsons". Wonersh History Society. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Claudia and Verena: Loughborough's original lady engineers". Unbound. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "MAGNIFICENT WOMEN: Claudia Parsons" (PDF). Women's Engineering Society. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Parsons, Claudia (1995). Century Story. Sussex, England: The Book Guild. pp. 181, 188, 191. ISBN 1857760271.
  5. ^ "Claudia Parsons (1900–1998), First Woman to Circumnavigate the World by Car". Art UK. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  6. ^ "What not to do when motoring abroad". The Women Engineer. III (3): 39. June 1930.
  7. ^ Parsons, Claudia (1995). Century Story. The Book Guild. ISBN 1 85776 027 1.
  8. ^ "Welcome to Wonersh our village - Person Page". www.greathead.org. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Women In Automotive Engineering - National Women In Engineering Day". IET Engineering Communities. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. ^ "News and events: The first Claudia Parson's Memorial Lecture". Loughborough University. January 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  11. ^ "TV presenter to talk 'Tech versus Talent in Tomorrow's World'". Loughborough University. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  12. ^ "BBC presenter and physicist talks bubbles, the ocean and women working in STEM". Loughborough University. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Upcoming Events". Equality Challenge Unit. February 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Claudia Parsons Memorial Lecture 2018". Loughborough University. Archived from the original on 25 March 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Pioneering female engineer honoured through hall name". Loughborough University. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 7 July 2018.