Elizabeth Laverick


Elizabeth Laverick
Amersham, England , UK
Associated organizations
British General Electric Company, IEE
Fields of study


IEEE Fellow, 1971, 'For contributions in the field of millimetric measurements, and for leadership of microwave research and development facilities.'

Elizabeth Laverick was born in Amersham, England , in 1925, the second daughter of a manufacturing chemist. She attended the local grammar school and, encouraged by both parents, stayed on to get a higher school certificate in physics, mathematics, French, and English. Most pupils -girls specially- left school earlier, so Elizabeth ended up in a class of only four, three boys and herself.

After graduating, having to wait for a year to be able to apply for college, Elizabeth took a job as a technical assistant at the Radio Research Station at Ditton Park (a government laboratory). Although the job was interesting, women were not encouraged to do much laboratory work but were instead expected to do things such as calculation of results and plotting of graphs for the scientists. Elizabeth was determined, though, and got the unusual privilege of doing lab work one day a week!

Taking advantage of wartime scholarships encouraging young people to go into science and engineering, in 1943 Elizabeth applied to Durham University to pursue a B.Sc. degree in radio and physics. She was the only female student in her honor classes, which were in fact very small. Because of the war, many of the male students had left to do their national service, and hence only three or four men who had been discharged and had gone back to school joined Elizabeth in her advanced classes. She received her degree in 1946, and stayed at Durham to pursue her Ph.D. in physics. Since in those days women physicists were unusual, Elizabeth thought that with a doctorate she would be perhaps rated as highly as a male B.Sc.

After graduating, Elizabeth went to work for the British General Electric Company at Stanmore, doing microwave research. She then joined the Elliott Brothers firm, working on microwave instruments and directing radar research. Eventually, she became Technical Director of the company. In 1971 she left Elliott Brothers to become Deputy Secretary of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) (U.K.), where she focused on Institution expenditures, the accreditation process for university engineering programs, and on helping IEE develop technical standards for electrical engineering.

Elizabeth has been closely involved with the Women's Engineering Society (WES), which, among other activities, organizes International Conferences of Women Engineers and Scientists. These international conferences are to encourage women engineers and scientists to get together, exchange information, examine how the WES technical programs can improve the quality of life in different countries, and promote the increasing participation of women in the engineering and science professions. Elizabeth also chaired the Institute of Physics Women in Physics Committee, which gets women members together to talk about their particular problems, such as having both a family and a career.

Further Reading

Elizabeth Laverick Oral History