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Born in Park Hill, Oklahoma in 1908, Mary Golda Ross was the first Native American female engineer. The great-granddaughter of the Cherokee Chief John Ross, she graduated from Northeastern State Teacher’s College with a degree in mathematics and taught school in Oklahoma for nine years before working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. Ross received a master's degree from the Colorado State Teachers College in 1938 and with the outbreak of World War II moved to California and was hired by Lockheed Martin as a mathematician. After obtaining a degree in mechanical engineering, she became one of the 40 Skunk Works engineers—the only woman and Native American on the team—who were responsible for numerous famous aircraft designs, including the U-2. After retiring, Ross worked to recruit young women and Native American youth into engineering careers. Special thanks to the Ross family and the American Indian Library Association (AILA).


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