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The ability to ‘handle men’—to be a professional manager—remained the true hallmark of the successful engineer. In the schools of engineering, this managerial ideal balanced precariously between workingclass manliness and academic gentility. In these environments, women students were encouraged to take math classes but often excluded from taking shop classes or field trips to factories that were required for graduation. When Nora Blatchs classmates prepared for a photograph showing them at work in the field, they arranged for a male friend to take Nora on a date on the day of the photo session so that she would not be in the picture.

48 In the United States, as elsewhere, understanding the formulation of a male professional identity requires attention to the relationship between management and the technical content of engineering as an occupation. Overqualified women found that the initial advantage of academic education would turn into a liability once they entered the workplace, where male codes based on managerial qualities and hands-on experience determined one’s professional standing. The gender division of engineering labor—between production floors and drafting offices— hinged on the very same (class) distinctions by which male engineers sought to distinguish themselves from self-trained foremen who had risen through the 28 RUTH OLDENZIEL MULTIOLE-ENTRY VISAS Figure 4.

44 During the Second World War, vocational literature attempted to assure female recruits that such engineering work would lead to full careers, but, Margaret Barnard Pickel, an adviser to graduate students at Columbia, questioned that promise and advised women to prepare for a backlash in peacetime. ’ she asked. ’46 The investigation by the Women’s Bureau into employment opportunities in peacetime was equally realistic and cautious. In explaining their research project, the officials at the Women’s Bureau stated in their correspondence that ‘it is our opinion that the increase of women [in technical and scientific work] during the war has been greatly exaggerated because of the publicity presented to attract them.

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