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Bailey grew up in New York City, where she graduated from the Chapin School in 1956. She received her bachelor's degree from the Radcliffe College, a master's degree from Stevens Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. from Princeton University, where she was the first woman to receive a doctoral degree in economics. Bailey was named the first woman to head a department (the economic research section) at Bell Laboratories. Bailey worked in technical programming at Bell Laboratories from 1960 to 1972, before transferring to the economic research section from 1972 to 1977.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter named Bailey the first woman Civil Aeronautics Board Commissioner. In 1981, she was named the first woman vice chairman of the agency by President Ronald Reagan. Between 1977 and 1983 she served on the Civil Aeronautics Board, where she oversaw the deregulation of the airline industry. From 1983 to 1990, she was Dean of the Graduate School of Industrial Administration of Carnegie Mellon University. Bailey became the first woman dean to head a Top 10 graduate school with this appointment.
Bailey joined The Wharton School in July 1991, having served from July 1990 to June 1991 as a professor of industrial administration at Carnegie Mellon University, and as a visiting scholar at the Yale School of Organization and Management. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997. She serves as a Director of TIAA-CREF and CSX Corporation, and as a trustee of The Brookings Institution, Bancroft NeuroHealth, and the National Bureau of Economic Research, where she is currently chairperson. Bailey has also been Director of Altria since 1989.
- "Elizabeth Ellery Bailey Named Recipient of the 2009 Carolyn Shaw Bell Award - News". News. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
- Johnson, Kirk (1984-08-26). "TECHNOLOGY'S DEAN: ELIZABETH E. BAILEY; A COMPUTER WHIZ AT THE HELM OF CARNEGIE-MELLON". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
- "2015 Awards Gala Bio - Elizabeth Bailey - Stevens Institute of Technology". connect.stevens.edu. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
- "List of Public Companies Worldwide, Letter - Businessweek - Businessweek". Businessweek.com. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
- "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
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