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Bright Sparks – Caroline Haslett

The modern world would look very different without the contributions of those who helped us harness electricity and develop electrical equipment. Here, we focus on some of the pioneers of the electrical world and their remarkable achievements.

NAME: Caroline Haslett

DATES: 17 August 1895 (Worth, Suffolk) – 4 January 1957 (Bungay, Suffolk)

EARLY LIFE: Haslett was the second of five children; her older brother died aged three from diphtheria. Her father, a lay preacher and engineer on the railways, taught her how to use tools; her mother shared her commitment to women’s rights.

After winning a scholarship to a school in Haywards Heath, she learned about electricity in science classes, although problems with her spine led her to missing a lot of classes. After secretarial college, she worked as a junior clerk then a boiler designer and during the First World War became interested in mechanisation and industry.

FIRST INVENTION: Designed a boiler blueprint while working at the Scottish office of the Cochran Boiler Company.

MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS: As a woman in the male world of engineering, Caroline Haslett was a trailblazer, championing the use of electricity in the home with the aim of freeing women from domestic drudgery.


1919 applied and won the post of Organising Secretary for the Women’s Engineering Society. Here she met Lady Parsons, an engineer and the wife of Sir Charles Parsons, inventor of the Parsons Steam Turbine – they were to become close friends.


1923 became a member of the council of the Industrial Welfare Society (until 1955).

1924 spoke at the first World Power Conference in London in the segment covering Power in Domestic Use and Agriculture.

1924 co-founded the Electrical Association for Women.


1930s consulted by Board of Education on girls’ education and became honorary advisor to the Headmistress Employment Committee.

1931 appointed CBE in recognition of her promotion of the use of electricity in the home.

1932 became a Companion Member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers; the first woman chosen for this role.

1932 selected as Chair of the Home Safety Committee.

1933 became Vice President of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents; again, the first woman to take on this role.

1932 appointed Vice President of the Home Safety Committee.

1936 met Henry Ford and visited the Edison Museum in Florida, USA.


1940s sat on an Institution of Electrical Engineers committee looking at electrical installation needs in post-war Britain, including safety in the home; the only woman to be given this role.

1941 became President of the Women’s Engineering Society.

1941 gave a talk on women in industry at the Royal Society of Arts.

1946-54 was a member of the Council of the British Institute of Management.

1947 Awarded Dame Commander of the British Empire.


1953-4 became the first female Chair of the British Electrical Development Association.



  1. Haslett loved botany and in 1952 a white iris was named Dame Caroline after her.
  2. In 1930 she met Albert Einstein in Berlin at the World Power Conference.
  3. Her dying wish was to be cremated by electricity.



At the time Haslett entered the workplace, very few women worked in engineering and very few houses had electricity. Her approach was to help inventions in electricity and engineering find a practical use in the home.

Her pioneering work included promoting the importance of electric lighting to reduce accidents in the home and improve eyesight. She also edited the Electrical Handbook for Women and Household Electricity.

As the voice for women in engineering, she inspired many women to join the profession, while improving the lives of many others through relieving some of the drudgery of household work.

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