Ruth Gordon Oral History

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Dublin Core


Ruth Gordon Oral History


Realizing that her dream of becoming a concert pianist would not materialize, Ruth Gordon instead decided to pursue a degree in civil engineering at Stanford University. She completed a master's degree in structural engineering in 1950 and has since become regarded as an icon of earthquake safety.

Gordon was turned down for several jobs because of her gender but was eventually hired by Isadore Thompson to oversee the construction of a hospital in southern California. She became the first female member of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California in 1953 and the first female state-certified structural engineer in 1959. Gordon worked for the Structural Safety Section of the California Office of the State Architect from 1959 to 1984 , primarily overseeing the construction and renovation of hospitals and schools. In 1984 she founded her own company, Pegasus Engineering, Inc., and conducted safety and earthquake survivability studies and post-earthquake evaluations on hospitals and schools. Gordon retired in 2001.

Although Gordon has resigned from the Society of Women Engineers national organization twice in political protest, she remains very active with the Golden Gate Section. In addition to her numerous professional speaking engagements, she works with the Math Science Network to encourage a new generation of girls to pursue engineering. She served as the first woman president of the Bay Area Engineering Council from 1982-1983.

Oral History Item


Deborah Rice


Gordon, Ruth

Date Recorded



1930s - 2000s


“Ruth Gordon Oral History,” Michigan Oral History Database, accessed June 13, 2024,

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